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BIPOC 2050 Project takeover edition: Centring BIPOC voices and experiences

Members of the BIPOC 2050 Project at the BCTF building in Vancouver, L to R: Melissa Illing, Aaron Anthony, Serena Pattar, Litia Fleming, Carolina Ganga, Chiana van Katwijk, Jamayca Whalen, Judy Yuen, Kimberley Jung, and Nisha Gill. Marilou Strait photo.

Teacher, May/June 2023

The May/June 2023 issue of Teacher magazine is a first for the Federation: it is the first written entirely by and about teachers who identify as Indigenous, Black, or People of Colour (IBPOC/BIPOC).

The purpose of this edition is to gather in community, both for our students and ourselves. It is a way to unabashedly celebrate the triumphs, joys, power, and solidarity among our beautiful, inspiring, and multilayered identities. We have fought for our rights in every community, every school, and every union space. And we continue to fight to have our voices heard and to find a sense of belonging.

The idea for this “takeover” edition was generated during a meeting of the BIPOC 2050 Project team. The BIPOC 2050 Project evolved from a different initiative called the BCTF Project 2050: Engaging New Teachers. The goal of the original research project, which ran in the 2018–19 school year, was to find ways to engage new members in the coming decades. Member-led focus groups with new teachers were a central part of that initial project.

At one of the early BCTF Project 2050 meetings, three members, Litia, Aaron, and Kimberley, brought forward an idea to include a specific focus on new members of Colour. The focus groups from the initial Project 2050 also brought awareness to the fact that experiences of BIPOC teachers are often underrepresented. To capture a more holistic and inclusive lens, a new iteration of the project was started in 2021 that focused solely on engaging BIPOC teachers: the BIPOC 2050 Project.

The BIPOC 2050 Project has evolved significantly since its inception. Engaging new BIPOC teachers remains a central theme; however, the project scope has expanded to include experienced BIPOC teachers as well.

Unionism is not easy to navigate, even for seasoned unionists. The BIPOC 2050 Project gives BIPOC teachers an accessible and meaningful way to engage with their union through new avenues centred on community building and sharing lived experiences.

While each of us had our own unique motivations and aspirations when we signed up for the project, we all agree that the desire to connect with other BIPOC educators, and empower other BIPOC educators, was integral to our work on this project.

Spaces where BIPOC members are safe and can share their stories and experiences without judgment are not easy to come by. The BIPOC 2050 Project set out to create these safe spaces at BIPOC events across the province. If we can do this at an in-person event, why not in a publication? With this mindset, we set out to create a special edition of Teacher that would highlight the voices and stories of BIPOC teachers.

In creating a BIPOC voices edition of Teacher, we hope to disrupt the status quo of what constitutes education across various subject areas. BIPOC teachers and students are present in every school and every classroom in this province. Our stories and our experiences deserve to be acknowledged and included in curriculum, pedagogy, resources, and learning spaces. The articles in this edition share some ideas on how to ensure BIPOC experiences are included in your teaching. Thank you to the many BIPOC teachers who contributed their work, creations, and perspectives in this edition.

This edition is also a calling-in to all teachers across the province: we can and we must continue to develop safe spaces for our learners, our communities, and our colleagues.

To our fellow BIPOC teachers: there are other BIPOC teachers just like you who want to support and empower you. It feels like we are finally getting the mic passed to us. Our voices matter. Our experiences are valid and real.

In solidarity,

BIPOC 2050 Project members

In solidarity and with support,

Clint Johnston, BCTF President


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