Riverside’s Anti-Racism club, sponsored by teacher Ms. Sheri Thomasen, has new targets set for the 2021-22 school year, hoping to expand conversations in their weekly afterschool meetings in room 110 to the larger school community by implementing initiatives and onboarding a new student leader, Ammarah Siddiqui.
According to Thomasen, the mandate of the club is, “to share knowledge about systemic and overt racism and advocate for its elimination.” And while the current club-style fosters a space to “bounce off people’s ideas,” as grade 11 member Elise Widmer attests, future initiatives are also being planned. Realizing the influence of educators on anti-racism culture in schools, the club wants “to talk to teachers at staff meetings in hope that if we are able to express it (club mandate) to the teachers, they will be able to teach and pass it onto their students (through inclusive course materials and lesson plans),” said Alyssa Mawji, another grade 11 member. This presentation to teachers is to include a new initiative pitch and education about racism in the school community. The Anti-Racism club Instagram page is also undergoing changes over the summer led by Siddiqui, with different design layouts and more regular posting schedules.
Club structure and system is being revised with Ms. Thomasen reasoning to place leadership of the club under a student. “I am hoping to continue the club next year but would like to make this club more student-run. Having a teacher at the helm makes it more of a classroom experience, and I would rather it be a club experience,” said Thomasen. And since members come from a range of backgrounds, having other students assist the leader would provide a range of perspectives and outlooks on a singular issue.
Some of this year’s club activities included honoring the 215 children found at the Kamloops Residential School by drawing 215 hearts near Riverside’s entrance (as pictured) and having social justice 12 teacher, Dr. Catalin Ursu come to speak about Palestine and Israel.