School District 57’s trustee by-election is coming up on Saturday, June 17.
10 candidates are running for two open positions left by former trustees Betty Bekkering and Gillian Burnett following their resignations just months after being elected.
My PG Now reached out to all the candidates with a list of five questions for them to answer in roughly 500 words or less.
The following are their unedited responses to those questions.
Five candidates will be featured in this article, the other five will be featured in a separate article that will be published tomorrow (Wednesday).
(Candidates are ordered alphabetically by last name).
1. Tell us a bit about yourself (a brief bio)
Lucy Duncan has lived and worked in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh since
1999. She is originally from Binche Keyoh, a small community that is situated on Stuart Lake, Fort St James BC. Lucille is a second-generation survivor of residential school and as an adult received her education from College of New Caledonia and continuing studies with UNBC. In 2014 Lucille served a four-year term as a School trustee with SD 91, Nechako Lakes District. Lucille has worked in various capacities in education and in the healthcare field.
She is a graduate of CNC (2005) with a social work diploma and received her Mental Health & Addiction Certificate from UNBC (2007). Lucille was recruited immediately by Central Interior Native Health Society (CINHS) as an Indigenous support worker because of her wealth of cultural knowledge and awareness of the impacts of government laws that targeted Indigenous people. Lucille educates health care providers and practitioners from CINHS, NHA and beyond on Indigenous trauma inform care, Cultural safety & humility and Indigenous way of being. She is an advocate within the larger community and brings light to the history of
Indigenous people through truth and reconciliation.
My name is Don Fitzpatrick. I have been in the Prince George area since 1991, I attended elementary and secondary school here and now have the pleasure of seeing my children attend school in the community.
My husband and I moved to Prince George in 1996, and our two daughters have graduated from SD57 schools. When my children’s school was closed in 2010, I realized how
important the workings of the school district were to schools and to students. I volunteered at the District Parent Advisory Council for years and served as Chair. I’ve gained firsthand experience in dealing with district policies, participating in board and committee meetings with various partner groups, and understanding the roles and responsibilities of a trustee. In addition, I have dealt extensively with catchment questions and capacity issues. This involvement has given me a solid understanding of the district and its needs.
I moved to Prince George with my family in 1992. I have four adult children. All three boys and their families live here in PG. My daughter and her family live in the lower mainland.
After I obtained my Masters Degree in counselling, I had an opportunity to teach both in the public system and in the private system. Presently, my wife and I own the only credit counselling agency in the north; although I am retiring soon.
Being on the board of trustees for nine months, I learned in a short period of time this district had its shortcomings. But as a single vote, I was unable to convince other trustees
to make changes to better serve the students, parents, and the citizens. Early on, I did state that in my opinion school district 57 was one of the worst districts when it came to academic achievement, with a toxic
learning and working environment and it is unsafe to be a student or staff.
I have always played team sports, both recreational and competitive. Coaching I found to be the most satisfying, coaching at various levels in both softball and baseball. Taking a young person and helping to develop their skills is beyond description. Whether it was in sports, obtaining my Red Seal and Instructors Certificate for my Trade, or my various positions of employment, it has always been a team effort. Throughout my career, whether as a Union employee or in Management, I have always tried to keep the team concept.
2. Why have you decided to run for school board?
In 2014 Lucy was elected to sit on the Board of Education for Nechako Lakes for School District 91. These four years allowed Lucille to gain experience in developing and implementing policies in a collaborative team of educators and administration. Prior to becoming a trustee, she worked in remote schools as a Dakelh language teacher, a guidance school counselor and substitute assistance. Afterwards, Lucille gained employment with SD 57, Aboriginal Education Department to assist in creating an Indigenous curriculum.
I have decided to put my name forward for school trustee as I believe in the future of our students and I feel we need to take a collaborative inclusive approach with parents and guardians when it comes to their child’s education.
The reasons I am running for the school board are:
1. My friends, who know me well, and my wife were encouraging me to run, saying that I would be a very qualified person to do so.
2. The bickering and partisan positions that people take on issues is divisive. Our city is too precious to have such disagreements separate us.
3. The Fraser Institute School Ranking stated that we have the poorest school academically in the whole province located in our district. Instead of discounting the survey, or justifying the low grade, we need compassionate collaboration with the stakeholders, to assist in the process of improving the standard.
My decision to run is for the students, teachers, and support staff. This district deserves better than to place last within the province. Our students have been robbed of their education. The current board I know wants to make improvements but is overwhelmed. I have the skill set, experience and knowledge to help turn this district around. Raising the bar, and ensuring that there is a safe working and learning environment, are two very important issues in my opinion. It`s going to take teamwork – support staff and their leaders, teachers and their leaders, and all stakeholders to accomplish this in a short time.
3. What would make you an effective Trustee?
Lucy will strive to uphold those Indigenous perspectives of inclusive in all education, as we are in the era of truth and reconciliation. Her life experiences, education, and proficiency in teaching others about interconnectedness and working collectively to respect all cultures and to ensure a safe environment for all will surely be an asset for SD 57’s students, teachers, and administrators.
I believe that as a trustee my effectiveness lies in my ability to listen, and problem-solve.
Several factors would contribute to my effectiveness as a trustee. Firstly, my knowledge and experience within the school system provide me with a deep understanding of its complexities and challenges. Additionally, my commitment to transparency, collaboration, integrity, and open communication allows me to build strong relationships with stakeholders and make informed decisions. Lastly, my financial planning background helps equip me with the skills to make responsible budgetary decisions that benefit our students and support the long-term goals of our district.
My education and experience will assist me in becoming an effective trustee.
I am a team player. I am not an approval seeker. Therefore, I am quite able to express my opinion. I am an empathetic listener.
I have had many opportunities to see factious groups come together to accomplish a mutual goal.
I have an ability to seek an understanding of issues and opinions. I can discern what motivates people to do or say, what they do or say. I treat people with respect.
To be effective in any roll, one must listen, observe and respect. Through previous positions and experience I have developed the ability to identify problem areas and remedy them quickly. At times a trustee must be willing to be blunt or abrasive (which I`m noted for). A trustee must be transparent. A trustee must never forget why they are in that position.
4. What are your opinions on SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) policies the district and province have in place?
SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) policies within school districts and the province is a priority for many people in our communities. As a school trustee, Lucille’s core values are that all students, teachers and employees of SD57 is to be safe and that students deserve to receive good quality education no matter what religion, gender and/or ethnic background. As an education trustee, our policies should reflect equality, safety, inclusiveness, and respect.
We must collaborate with and listen to the concerns of parents and guardians in regard to SOGI. There is no set government curriculum nor is this a mandatory course, it is in fact left up to the discretion of the district to determine. (Provincially it is recommended to educate on inclusion and human rights)
5. Why should someone vote for you?
Lucy is known for her cultural knowledge, and her life experiences and brings her two-eyed perspectives to the team in any setting. Lucy has good communication and collaborative skills to work in a team and has not only enabled her to gain skills, but to collaborate with others to reveal and respond to systemic racism as a collective.
Lucy feels she can be the voice for the community, and learners and implement policies to create a safe learning environment.
A safe work environment and learning environment, free from harassment, threats, and violence is most important. We must get back to the basics, take politics out of the classroom, and have every student succeed. I have no ulterior agendas – I`m not employed by any stakeholders now or in the past. My only agenda is for all students to be successful, and for teachers and support staff to have the necessary tools to ensure that students succeed.
I pledge to keep the public apprised of the happenings of the school board and their decisions, to the best of my ability – no more closed meetings, no more “in camera” meetings to deal with non-personnel issues. I faced a sanction last time I was a trustee, but it did not stop me from speaking my mind and trying to keep the public informed (which is why I was sanctioned in the first place).
Voters get a chance to meet the candidates face-to-face Thursday night (June 8) from 6:00 to 8:00 at Vanier Hall.
Advance voting begins tomorrow (Wednesday) at the School Board office from 8:00 – 8:00.
Advanced voting will also be held on Tuesday, June 13 at the same place and time.
On the general voting day (Saturday, June 17) polls will be from 8:00 – 8:00 at:
- Glenview Elementary
- Heritage Elementary
- Malaspina Elementary
- Pineview Elementary
- Van Bien Training Centre
— School District No. 57 (Prince George) (@SD57PG) May 18, 2023