My statement on Local Government Week

October 18, 2017

I rise today, during Local Government Week, to recognize the dedicated, locally elected school board trustees who are responsible for governing public education in our province.

School board trustees are the oldest form of elected representation in Ontario. They are champions of public education whose singular focus is the promotion of student achievement and well-being, and ensuring that all students are able to reach their fullest potential.

School boards bring together elected trustees, appointed indigenous trustees and elected student trustees. This year, I want to congratulate the Thames Valley District School Board for its leadership in creating a seat at the board table for Canada’s first-ever indigenous student trustee. Tsista Kennedy, a grade 11 student at Saunders Secondary School in London, will bring the voices of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students to school board decision-making—a historic first, not just for Ontario but for our nation.

Speaker, this is what truth and reconciliation looks like and what public education is all about. It is about celebrating and respecting the contributions of first peoples and ensuring their voices are heard in curriculum and in governance. It is about embracing diversity in our schools and our communities, and closing achievement gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous students, between black and non-black students, and others. It is about providing students with special needs the resources and supports they require to learn.

School board trustees are critical to our future as a province and as a society, and I salute them for their advocacy and commitment.