Cowichan trustees are not ‘committing suicide’

Eden Haythornthwaite says Cowichan Valley trustees are taking a strong position after years of neglect.

Editor:

Re: Cowichan School District’s restoration budget

On May 28, Education Minister George Abbott addressed more than 100 delegates at the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Council’s annual general meeting. Among other matters focused on during this presentation, he described the Cowichan School Board as “threatening to commit suicide.”

It is a sad comment on the approach of our provincial government that Minister Abbott feels it is appropriate to mock our board while exhibiting a deep insensitivity for the current grief Cowichan is enduring regarding an epidemic of suicide among native youth.

The Cowichan board has engaged with the higher body of government respectfully. We have requested talks to address the shortfalls we are experiencing here in our schools, many of which contribute to the sad state of support for all our at-risk children and aboriginal students in particular.

It would be more in keeping with the civil behaviour we should expect from our elected people to see some effort to meet rather than running around the province making flip statements, which are at best inaccurate and at worst deeply disrespectful to our people.

The trustees of Cowichan have taken their commitments to the community seriously by shaping a budget which reflects both the real needs and the dearest hopes our families have shared with us.

The trustees of Cowichan are not committing suicide — we are taking a strong position after years of neglect, after years of seeing our troubles dismissed.

We have stated repeatedly we wish to hold conversations with our government — the only genuine source of revenue for our schools and the sole proprietors of tax collection. If their only response to this very measured request is a bellicose threat to fire us, they are not doing right by schools or our democratic rights.

The only people who can fire us are the voting citizens of Cowichan. We place ourselves confidently in their hands.

Eden Haythornthwaite

Board chair, Cowichan School District 79