Dear STMC Community,
A question has been raised this week about where STMC stands on Black Lives Matter. With all the protests and demonstrations going on around the world, it is inevitable that students, alumni and members of the STMC community are looking to STMC for a response. Indeed we have instilled in our Knights the quest to make a difference for the earth and its people through education, action and advocacy on issues of social justice.
Since its inception in 1960, STMC has been inspired by the 7 Essential Elements of the Blessed Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Two of the elements are particularly relevant today:
- Essential Element #3: Stand in solidarity with those Marginalized by Poverty and Injustice
- Essential Element #5: Celebrate the Value and Dignity of Each Person and Nurture the Development of the Whole Person
In a way, the response is very simple: STMC stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. This is loud and clear in STMC’s mission statement, vision values and the integration of social justice within our teaching and learning activities, but the inequities and social injustices which are the catalyst for Black Lives Matter are complex.
The recent tragic deaths of Black men and women in Canada and the USA, in particular the death of Mr. George Floyd, serve as examples of systemic racism and social injustice. Tragically, there are so many additional injustices embedded in society. This is evidenced by the racism and health inequities experienced by our Indigenous peoples, the plight of migrant workers, the destruction of our environment and disparities in health and economics experienced around the world. These are all long standing issues, the roots of which have not always been accurately reflected in our local and global educational systems. The COVID-19 impact has further highlighted the historic inequities that exist for people of colour and the poor and marginalized, as they have been disproportionally impacted. STMC is not only supportive of Black Lives Matter, but is also supportive of other initiatives that seek to peacefully and respectfully raise awareness of multiple examples of social injustice and advance action oriented change.
It has been affirming to witness over the past months, how STMCs leadership, staff and students are reflecting on many of these injustices and integrating them into reflections and prayers shared across the STMC community. This adds to the long history of social action evidenced by STMC students and staff as they have engaged in discussions in religion classes, participated in mission tours, attended educational sessions, visited other Blessed Edmund Rice Schools in particular those located in geographic areas where inequities are so prevalent, and committed to personal actions large and small.
Our Catholic beliefs, the Essential Elements, and STMCs articulation of our mission, vision, and values are all foundations on which to continue to develop our individual and collective responses to social injustice. BUT there is so much more we need to do. We need to continue to engage our students and staff in dialogue and training that promotes intentional outcome oriented action reflective of STMCs commitment to social justice. We need to pursue questions that raise awareness and seek solutions.
How do we identify and address the realities of white privilege? How do we identify ways in which STMC may be contributing to discrimination at a personal or systemic level? How do we actively support orderly calls for change such as envisioned by the Black Lives Matter movement? How do we ensure our education is an accurate reflection of the past, and an effective catalyst for a future in which all are treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, colour, religion, gender orientation, place of origin? How do we create a world in which everyone experiences a safe, supportive environment that fosters self fulfillment?
The Black Lives Matter movement is calling us to take action to address these and other complex questions. It has gained momentum which needs to be leveraged for real change for the Black Lives movement and all others who are disadvantaged by our societal norms and structures. STMC leadership will seek ways to engage our students, alumni, families and friends in identifying intentional strategies for STMC to make a contribution to create the future we envision.
Please connect with us if you have specific questions or suggestions.
We are confident that STMC will continue make a positive contribution to the development of our staff, students and society.