DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION REPORT CARD – JULY 2022
We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.
CONTENTS REFLECTIONS ON THE PAST YEAR
OUR VISION AND OUR VALUES
YEAR 2 REPORT CARD
UPDATES AND PARTNERS IN THIS WORK
CURRICULUM PROFILES AND DIRECTIONS
REFLECTIONS ON THE PAST YEAR Diversity, equity and inclusion and the actions that seek to bring about change in our society are underpinned by a mindset that values voices and lived experiences, belonging, activism, respect and the recognition of our shared humanity. In 2020, we began our DEI work knowing that these values and our commitment to change are foundational to a flourishing workplace and learning space. We know that we must continually do better, that there is always more to do, and that we are stronger when we learn from our challenges. This mindset grounds our approach to well-being and innovation. It is evident in and will continue to inform how we approach the International Baccalaureate program. Our vision for DEI at Branksome Hall is achieved one day and one decision at a time. It is not the responsibility of one person but a shared endeavour that requires the commitment and support of every person in our community. We are grateful for the milestones reached, the lessons learned, and those who share their perspectives with us. The DEI audit planning with Anima Leadership has helped us to explore our practices and we are grateful for the ongoing conversations we are having with students, parents, employees and alum on their experiences at Branksome Hall. We are proud to be engaging in this meaningful work every day, one action at a time.
CHAIR’S MESSAGE Branksome Hall has a core value of inclusiveness. Our commitment and aspiration is to be a community that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion so that it is reflected in our students’ and employees’ lived experiences every day. Since hearing meaningful feedback from community members in the summer of 2020, we knew this was not always the case — and we are committed to listening, learning and doing more. As reflected in this year’s report, over the last two years Branksome Hall has been deliberate about how it is fostering empathetic, informed and responsible engagement and action. Today, we are embracing new ways of teaching, learning and working to create an affirming space and optimal learning environment, and it’s one of the top priorities shaping our school community. While real change takes time and the support of the entire Branksome community, we are committed to ensuring these efforts make a meaningful difference by holding ourselves and each other accountable for ongoing progress and action. Mona Malone, Incoming Chair, Branksome Hall Board of Governors
Sincerely, Mira Gambhir, Head, Research & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Karen L. Jurjevich Principal
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OUR VISION AND OUR VALUES
OUR VISION FOR DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION
To be a community that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion so that it permeates our institutional culture, guides our actions, and is reflected in our students’ and employees’ lived experiences. To be a community where diversity, equity, inclusion and restorative justice involve engaging multiple perspectives, critically challenging assumptions, and taking empathetic, informed and responsible action in our school, our partnerships and in the world.
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ESTABLISHING OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES
FOR DECISION MAKING AS SCHOOL LEADERS
With our school values as a foundation, we anchor our conversations, decisions and recommendations in principles of anti-racism, accessibility, gender inclusion and anti-oppressive practice.
As we build our multi-year action plan and programming, we are guided by key principles developed by the senior leadership team and the DEI working group. Some of these include:
Branksome Hall’s goal is to be an inclusive independent school community that makes a difference through an integrated, whole-school approach to diversity, equity and inclusion.
• We acknowledge that racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism and other institutionalized forms of oppression exist. Our commitment is to dismantle them through our actions and values. • We are committed to open and trusting dialogue amongst decision-makers as well as community members on the actions presented and the development of these actions. • We create space for feedback from an individual or from a group to host, hear and dialogue about the action plan. • Leaders will do the work to be inclusive and continuously work to acknowledge implicit biases, amplify the voices of those who have been marginalized, and ensure DEI in their own teams.
OUR SHARED VALUES
SENSE OF COMMUNITY
As we fulfill Branksome’s mission and vision, we build a community where we value and respect each other’s needs, contributions and well-being. We create a supportive environment where we feel that we belong, and are inspired to do our most meaningful and impactful work.
As an inclusive community, our world view respects the fundamental dignity of each person. We create an inspiring, dynamic and caring environment where we champion diversity in its broadest sense.
EXPANDING OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR OPEN AND TRUSTING DIALOGUE
AN INTEGRATED APPROACH: SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING (SEL) AND DEI
Creating space for open and trusting dialogue is core to DEI work. This year we identified the components of an open and trusting dialogue, starting with: establishing parameters, space and access, power dynamics, and responsibility and accountability. Drawing from a range of resources such as the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, and The Centre for Community Organizations’ “White Supremacy Culture in Organizations,” we created a list of guidelines, some of which include:
Branksome’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion has been echoed throughout our curriculum and approach to education. Our DEI lens advances Branksome’s emphasis on Social-Emotional Learning, prioritizing self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.
• Flexibility and adaptability - Open and trusting dialogues must make space for diverse perspectives, even outside of a perceived “agenda”. • Adopting an open and learning mindset - Use active listening, avoid interrupting, and approach this work with humility and a willingness to make mistakes. • Using intersectional thinking - Keep intersectionality in mind, do not assume that people who share identities share the same or similar experiences. • Centering humility and accountability - Know that we all have the capacity to do harm, and avoid reacting with defensiveness or blame when taking accountability for harm you have caused.
“An integrated mindset recognizes the inextricable relationship between equity and social-emotional learning. When social-emotional skill development is approached with an equity lens, it helps to identify and make explicit the inherent oppression, inequities, and biases that exist in our communities and society. This is key to understanding how empathy, respect, dialogue, privilege, power, intersectionality, and social action operate in our world.” Dr. Carolyn Mak, Lead Social Worker
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Creativity encourages us to be unafraid to approach new ideas and opportunities, confidently, enthusiastically and passionately. Building on our strengths and authentic selves, we acknowledge and appreciate imperfection as part of the learning and creative processes. We persist through challenges and take risks, creating space for innovation and expression.
As learners and leaders we inspire each other to shape a better world and have meaningful impact. We believe in each other, and we are mindful of our words, actions, assumptions and biases. We know that at Branksome, we can contribute to making a difference and in so doing, there is mutual benefit and growth.
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YEAR 2 REPORT CARD
GOAL 1 Increase DEI awareness, understanding and action for all constituent groups through leadership, governance, communications, enrolment management and human resources practices.
GOAL 2 Develop an organizational culture that encourages advocacy, anti-racism and anti-discrimination and values the lived experiences of community members.
GOAL 3 Build employee capacity and leadership through continued learning opportunities to foster classroom and school operational practices that are rooted in anti-racism and anti-discrimination education.
GOAL 4 Build student capacity for advocacy, dialogue and anti-racism leadership across the school.
GOAL 5 Develop metrics, collect data and report findings that inform DEI priorities.
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Please find below Branksome Hall’s status on key DEI initiatives as of June 2022.
COMPLETED AND ON-GOING AS PART OF SCHOOL PROCESS • Developed the DEI strategy, mandate and action plan for Years 2 and 3. • Completed the DEI Board Demographic Survey in November 2021. • Completed Board of Governors training with Anima Leadership in March 2022. • Principal and Head, Research and DEI provided regular updates on DEI strategy and action plan to the Board of Governors, leadership teams (SLT/MT), and Student Diversity Council • Revised DEI website and created new DEI email address (DEI@branksome.on.ca). • Planned strategic communications for DEI Audit and Community Updates. • Changed internal calendar to include Important Dates and Days of Significance. • Implemented revisions and applied broader DEI lens to Admissions review. • Offered professional development and training opportunities for school leaders on unconscious bias, managing bias in hiring, gender expression and communication for Senior and Middle School faculty. • Addressed DEI in job postings and expanded recruitment spaces. • Included DEI education as part of the onboarding of new hires. • Established employee affinity group program in September 2021. • Supported employee attendance at conferences with DEI focus (e.g., NAIS, NCGS, IB, Admissions).
• Hosted learning circles for students and employees. • Began curriculum review project and mapping in the IB Curriculum from JK-12. • Created a DEI Curriculum Team with representatives in Senior and Middle School to support curriculum audit in four areas: 1) Individuals and Societies; 2) Modern Languages; 3) Physical and Health Education; and 4) Theory of Knowledge. • Promoted financial assistance program within the student community through revisions to the website and Admissions letters. • Documented and shared discrimination reporting mechanisms for students. • Continued building student support program for Boarding students. • Outlined an integrated DEI and social-emotional learning (SEL) approach to emphasize the mental health and well-being focus. • Implemented programming for Black History Month, Portia White, and Downie-Wenjack Legacy Schools’ Program. • Continued to review and revise the Student Code of Conduct and Boarding Handbook to include DEI focus. • Expanded student affinity groups in the Middle School. • Revised the use of community time to implement the recommendations of the Cultural Celebration Working Group. • Expanded DEI leadership sessions to Grades 7-11 student leaders. • Increased communication and transparency to student body regarding ongoing DEI work by implementing regular meetings or shared priorities with Diversity Council representatives, student leaders and Prefects. • Worked with auditors to develop qualitative and quantitative data gathering tools to record and continually assess DEI progress with alum and parent groups. • Completed data collection of the audit.
IN PROGRESS, TO BE COMPLETED BY SEPTEMBER 2022 • Reviewed Transgender Guidelines and formulated draft of Gender Expression and Identity Guidelines. • Modified reporting guidelines to be inclusive of gender.
• Began action planning for Marketing and Communications to support our DEI mandate. • Drafted initial editorial calendar for DEI communications based on Days of Significance. • Updated communications brand and style guide.
IN PROGRESS, TO BE COMPLETED IN 2022-2023 ACADEMIC YEAR • Develop the DEI strategy, mandate and action plan based on the audit results. • Share audit findings with BH constituents (i.e. school leaders, employees, students, parents and at an alum open meeting). • Collect documentation for initial review of courses (course outlines, IB Scope and Sequence Documents). • Review and expand financial assistance program within the student community. • Design welcome groups that support effective transition of BIPOC students to Branksome.
• Develop a Year 2 Speaker Series that addresses anti-racism, anti-discrimination, social action, privilege and allyship (and consider opportunities for parent education). • Implement affinity groups training for affinity group leaders. • Share school practices in DEI and course expectations at K-12 curriculum nights. • Post curriculum examples on the DEI website for incoming family communications. • Reach AODA compliance on website and portal. • Host welcome events for new students and identify care support programming.
TO BE INITIATED IN 2022-2023 ACADEMIC YEAR AS YEAR 3 PRIORITIES • Review audit findings within Branksome, develop multi-year priorities and share audit survey findings on DEI website. • Review and revise Board Governance policies and bylaws through a DEI lens. • Design ongoing training, online modules and in-person professional learning opportunities for employees PD program on anti-Black racism education, Indigenous education. • Develop DEI mandate and philosophy for BIPOC student recruitment and outline plan with milestones.
• Review application process, scholarship allocation and assessment practices to identify new opportunities. • Explore a Human Library® Program, which offers personal conversations designed to challenge stigma and stereotypes. • Outline principles for inclusive leadership. • Review DEI in performance and Leadership Talent Review & Development Program, incorporating principles of inclusive leadership.
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UPDATES AND PARTNERS IN THIS WORK
DEI AUDIT - JUNE 2022 AN UPDATE FROM ANIMA LEADERSHIP Anima Leadership completed its data collection for the DEI audit in February, closing the process with the alum survey. Over the past year, Anima has engaged with students, alum, parents and employees through surveys, focus groups and meetings. Anima also assessed the Admissions, Human Resources and Communications and Marketing areas to better identify areas for potential DEI growth. We were very pleased with the Branksome community’s strong response rate to the surveys, which have provided a solid quantitative base for analysis: • 196 (83%) Junior School parents completed the JK-6 survey • 623 (97%) Senior and Middle School students completed the Grades 7-12 survey • 29 (26%) 2021 graduates completed the Grade 12 survey • 378 (9%) Alum completed the Alum survey • 188 (83%) Employees completed the Employee Survey
A common theme that emerged from the data was great pride in being part of the Branksome community. Participants recognized the school’s commitment to working on short and long term DEI goals. Areas of development identified by the community included a strong need for more diversity amongst teachers and staff, as well as more of a focus on DEI education throughout the school. More details will be shared fully after submission of the final report in August. Anima Leadership is grateful to all the students, employees, parents and leaders who took the time to share their experiences and to the employees across many departments who provided invaluable information.
Shakil Choudhury and James Beaton Anima Leadership
The focus groups offered good insights into the Branksome community’s experiences at the school. In total, 56 students, employees, alum and parents participated in a spectrum of focus groups, ranging from discussions that were open to all as well as those specifically for BIPOC, Black and LGBTQ2S+ communities. Anima has spent the winter and spring analyzing the information provided with the goal of completing the reports mid-summer. Presentations to different Branksome Hall community members will take place in the 2022-2023 academic year. DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION REPORT CARD – JULY 2022 | 11
DEI WORKING GROUP “Branksome Hall has been on an extraordinary journey these past few years, a journey that reflects diversity, equity and inclusion, where every member of our community is committed to increasing DEI awareness and fostering classroom environments that are rooted in anti-racism and anti-discrimination education. The journey embraces diversity, equity and inclusion as a way of being and doing as we strive to lead organizational change, inspire organizational change and evoke organizational change.” Mary Fiore, Grade 3 Math/Design and Technology Integration, DEI Working Group member January 2021-June 2022
STUDENT DIVERSITY COUNCIL “This year we explored a case study regarding a real-life incident a Branksome student faced where she felt like calling out racist remarks expressed by an individual who she felt was of higher status, as they were an adult male and wealthy. By bringing in an anonymous voice that represented a feeling many can identify with, it felt very productive to discuss possible responses. It is important to apply the critical thinking skills we learn in tough situations because that is the only way, as a society, that we can make change and move forward. In having these conversations we are empowering students to be knowledgeable and outspoken.” Kashish Khatri, Grade 12
The 2021-22 academic year gave Branksome Hall the opportunity to take a departure from our current understanding of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to expand the definition of diversity in a way that can be understood and felt uniquely and differently by everyone in the community… With all of this enthusiasm and compassion in place, our biggest job moving forward would be to acknowledge that new perspectives can always emerge and to guide students through their journey of promoting DEI in their own experiences so that they can feel good about their decisions and know how the community can support them in the best ways possible. Seungmyoung Lee, Diversity Council Student Life Representative, Grade 11
A FEW OF THE CLUBS, COUNCILS AND PROGRAMS ADVANCING DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION • Black Student Union • Boarding Council • Diversity Council (Middle and Senior) • East Asian Culture Club • Gender Sexuality Alliance (Middle and Senior) • Gender Studies Club • Human Rights Club • Jewish Cultural Club • Mind: Your Business • Peer Support and Peer Promoters • Social Detectives (Junior) • Grade 6 Social Action Committee (Junior) • South Asian Culture Club • Sunny View Partnership • Sustainability Council (became Sustainability Club)
OUR STUDENT LEADERS In September 2021, Branksome Hall held its second inclusive leadership workshop with incoming school leaders, including prefects, council heads and student life representatives. As part of their session, students were asked to respond to two questions.
WHAT DOES INCLUSIVE LEADERSHIP MEAN TO YOU? an inclusive leader is somebody who supports and involves everyone, takes everyone into consideration, and makes sure everyone in the community is heard and seen.
encourage under-represented voices to speak up in order to create a more diverse and collaborative community
seeks and listens to diverse experiences
focuses on their ability to empower rather than their power
feels brave enough to insert oneself in difficult conversations
engaged, genuine, trustworthy, brave, optimistic, credible
able to be accountable for their implicit biases and work to resolve them
a “safe person” for people to come to
WHAT IS ONE ACTION YOU OR THIS LEADERSHIP GROUP NEEDS TO TAKE IN ORDER TO BE AN INCLUSIVE LEADER?
decolonize our own thinking
the ability to access and to reach out to my peers to offer my support
student discussion groups to debrief important and heavy topics in an uncomfortable way
opportunities to connect to the community
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CURRICULUM PROFILES AND DIRECTIONS
EVOLVING OUR CURRICULUM
Faculty integrate diversity, equity and inclusion school-wide and in their classrooms. In the years ahead, we are working with the academics teams and faculty to map the curriculum across all classes, ensuring DEI priorities are a part of all teaching and learning at Branksome. Following are some examples of the connections teachers make in a range of courses.
“[A]s an artist… I strive to acknowledge the voice[s] of racialized and marginalized youths in my artworks” Nina Cai, Grade 11
DESIGN “The Grade 8 design students explored the field of inclusive design through the re-design of popular board games such as Monopoly, Clue, Risk, Catan, Candyland and Game of Life. The design cycle framework was used to support the process. Students explored the criteria for inclusive design as laid out by the Inclusive Design Research Center at OCADU… The students’ final creations creatively integrated the principles of inclusive design and demonstrated superb technical, creative and design skills!” Allison Campbell-Rogers, Senior and Middle Design Teacher & Service Learning Lead
ARTS This year students had the opportunity to explore a variety of topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion through art and artistic practice. Curriculum in the arts department explored artists whose work incorporates aspects of culture, gender, race, sexuality and mental health. Integrating aspects of social-emotional learning, students in grades 10-12 began to unpack social awareness and self-awareness, examining their artistic influences and how their art-work may change in relation to their audience. Nina Cai. Published in volume five of in:cite, an online journal for gathering and spreading knowledge by, for, and created with young people.
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DRAMA “This year the Grade 10 drama class partnered with Let’s Grow Learning and Living Hub, a day program catering to medically complex, physically disabled adults. Marrying Service Learning with the creative process, we reimagined typical theatre experiences by exploring existing sensory and relaxed performances for people on the autism spectrum and with vision impairment. The ensemble created a clown show catering to the needs of the team members at Let’s Grow. Performing the show at Let’s Grow was a moment of sharing the value of the performing arts with our immediate community, where everyone was able to engage naturally and be celebrated for who they are.” Melissa Shaddick, Senior and Middle School Arts Teacher
SCIENCE Grade 10 science students studied health inequities, working to identify barriers to healthcare access for marginalized communities, and learning about the potential for healthcare innovation. The students were fortunate to hear from Dr. Nadine Caron, Professor at UBC’s Northern Medical Program and department of surgery, and the Co-Director of UBC’s Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health. Dr. Caron was the first female First Nations student to graduate from the University of British Columbia’s medical school, and was named one of Maclean’s ‘One Hundred Canadians to Watch’.
JUNIOR SCHOOL This year the Junior School prioritized Indigenous education and curriculum connections across many content areas. Some examples include the Walk for Wenjack, National Day of Truth & Reconciliation and Treaties Recognition Week. Junior School students participated in the Walk for Wenjack twice this year, once in the fall, and once in the spring as an element of the student-led conferences. This work is part of Branksome’s commitment as a Downie and Wenjack Legacy School, and an important part of our focus on reconciliation and residential school education.
This April Branksome Hall had the distinct pleasure of honouring the renowned contralto singer, and former Branksome Hall music teacher, Portia White. This event came together after many months of thoughtful planning in collaboration with the White family.
To commemorate Portia White’s indelible legacy, Branksome Hall has installed a memorial plaque in her honour. The plaque text was designed by author, poet and professor, and Portia’s great-nephew, George Elliott Clarke, who was instrumental in the inception and planning of this event. Through curriculum connection our students learned about Portia White and her cultural impact as a Canadian legend, international musical star and breaker of racial barriers. Many of our students also contributed to the celebration through music, dance, and spoken word.
“Symbols matter, and who is celebrated in a space matters; the images we are surrounded by, matter. Portia White walked these halls. Black excellence has existed, and continues to exist, in this space. By surfacing and celebrating Portia White’s story at Branksome Hall, we commit to finding new ways to foster, evolve and recognize Black excellence in our community.” Jill Strimas, Instructional Leader, English, ESL & International Languages
“What I told the students that day was to be like Portia. I tried to channel her inspirational thinking and tell them to follow their dreams and trust their talent and intuition… and that she would want me to tell them that doors would open for them just as they did for her, and that she would want them to continue the pursuit of excellence their entire lives.” Sheila White, Niece of Portia White, CBC Radio, 2022
“In her vast ocean her audience agreed to drown Resilience in the resonance Sincerity in her sound She broke barriers with that voice of hers Demanded their attention Demanded their praise In the lights of the stage That bright spark she set ablaze” Sabrina Seville, Grade 9, The Soul Who Dared, Spoken Word Performance
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We have included this section to acknowledge that the pathway to building a diverse, equitable and inclusive community is one that is full of both learning and action. It involves failing forward, which means not seeing progress as a linear path, but rather coming together as a community to take meaningful action, respond to what we learn and recognize our achievements. In this last year, some of the lessons we have learned include: • Students need more opportunities to be part of the decision-making process and we need to find opportunities for clubs, community gathering times and working groups to help them do so; • Families need more extensive communication and education opportunities as to how DEI is woven intentionally into what we do every day as a valuesdriven, International Baccalaureate World School; • We need to continue deepening our knowledge about who is in our community, what areas of programming we need to build and focus on, and celebrate what we have achieved;
• We need to continue to find ways to better integrate day and Boarding student communities; • We need to continue to communicate clearly how we address anti-Black racism in our multi-year action plan and overall school efforts; • Students and employees experience microaggressions and adults and students can do better in naming and intervening in the moment; • We need to build sustainable affinity spaces for our community who identify as black, racialized minorities, Indigenous, LGBTQ2+, as well as allies; and • We need to continue to find a balance between our intent and eagerness to move forward with actions in a time when the community is living in an increasingly polarized and uncertain world. The reality of this work is that there are many challenges. Vulnerability, mistakes and barriers arise as we learn. Despite these challenges, we remain committed to creating a culture of anti-racism and anti-discrimination at Branksome Hall. We name the lessons each year and take steps for the year ahead.
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