On Tuesday evening the Chilliwack school board debated a motion to install a third flag pole at the board office which originally started as to just fly the “pride” flag with the BC flag or the Canada flag.
Most of the questions fielded by parents and community members focused on what the flag pole is going to be used for while Trustee Maahs asked about the cost for a third flag pole and the reason for it.
The motion up for debated came in two parts; posting of a “message of support” for the “2SLGBTQIA+ community” every June on the districts website in the name of pride month. Secondly it asks to have a third flag pole erected on the property of the School District Board Office.
“the Board of Education acknowledges and shows support for staff, students and families in the Chilliwack School District community who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ by putting a message of support on the district website each June in recognition of National Pride Month in Canada” the motion begins.
The second part of the was in regards to installing a third flag pole at the School Board Office to be used for “special events and celebrations” and when not in use it will fly the Chilliwack flag.
“The Board of Education direct staff to install a third flagpole at the board office for special event flags. Additionally, when not in use, the flagpole may be used to fly the Chilliwack flag.”
Maahs said she can’t support the first part of the motion. Maahs explained how the motion could lead to being exclusionary.
“I think if we start down this path we’re going to lose we’re going to miss somebody we’re going to leave somebody out”
Maahs accurately pointed out there’s an endless amount of calibrations and special events.
Asian Heritage Month Canadian Jewish Heritage Month, Dutch Heritage Month, International Day against homophobia transphobia and biphobia. We have National indigenous History Month which is also June. We have Italian Heritage Month, Filipino Heritage Month, Portuguese Heritage Month, Hindu heritage month. Maahs said the list she made could keep going on.
“My point is we serve all the students in the school district and to raise one group up by putting them specifically on our website unless unless we’re we’re willing to put all these groups on for every single uh day month time to for the board to show support. Trouble is we’re going to lose we’re going to leave somebody out so for those Reasons I’m opposed to this motion
Chair Willow spoke in favor of the motion to plaster “2SLGBTQIA+” support on the website each June with no questions saying they are a more oppressed group than others and that’s why the message needs to on the website before suggesting parents and members of the community outside the board office that day and in attendance are displaying “relentless discrimination” against the “2SLGBTQIA+” community.
Maahs raised a point of order calling out Willow Reichelt for “derogatory” statements towards parents and community members.
“You have absolutely no substantiation for that statement you just made it was very derogatory to people who are standing there with Canadian flags. That’s all they’re doing” Maahs said.
One person is heard saying they are praying for Willow. Willow snapped back saying “I wonder why they’re praying” retracting her statement in a snarky manner. “I will uphold your point of order. I will retract my inferencing about what’s happening outside from the public record. I suppose.”
Trustee Richard Procee echoed Maahs and community members that spoke about certain flags being flown on a flag pole.
“we gotta walk carefully down that road” said Chilliwack School Trustee Richard Procee of taking a group and making it a special privilege or idea.
The first part of the motion passed.
Before the debate about a third flag pole began, Superintendent Rohan Arul-pragasam explained a third flag pole is needed because proper flag ediq provincial and national flags require their own flag pole.
Superintendent Rohan Arul-pragasam “They [government website] is really clear that the flags – especially the Canadian flag and BC flag need to have their own flag pole.”
The flag pole purchase motion is for a total of three new flag poles and the refurbishing of one of the current flag poles.
Currently the school board has two flag poles. One was described as “beyond life” and will be salvaged while the other one will be refurbished and used “at another site.”
Two new flag poles will be purchased to replace the current flag poles, one for the BC flag and the the second for the Canada flag. After getting the quotes for the two new flag poles it was decided to spend another $5,000 to have a third flag pole to be installed for “special events and celebrations.”
Trustee David Swankey raise concerns of how it will be decided which flags to raise up and which ones not to and if there will be a chance for feedback to be given.
“Is there have you been able to determine if there’s any examples of administrative regulations or factors that would serve the district well in balancing the competing considerations and maybe just the challenges of operationalizing this direction”
“That’s a great question actually. I did a quick scan across the system and thanks a lot for bringing up.” said Superintendent Rohan Arul-pragasam adding “Sunshine Coast has a patriotic and flag protocol. It doesn’t talk about special events that’s up to the school district. My assumption would be a senior leadership, board of education, some level of consultation with the community but that’s that’s internal by itself it’s not reflected in the admin procedures.”
Trustee Swankey spoke in favour of the motion to buy a third flag pole because the motion is about buying and installing a flag pole and not what will be flying on it implying if it was about flying a specific flag he wouldn’t support it because then it wouldn’t be inclusive to begin with.
In the end the motion was carried.
The Chilliwack school board passed both parts of the motion, to plaster “2SLGBTQIA+” symbols and “support” messages on the website each June and to buy three brand new flag poles to install at the school board office. One each for the BC flag and Canada flag and a third for “special events and celebrations.”