From the address by Baljinder Kaur Narang, Chair, Burnaby Board of Education at its inaugural meeting on December 10:


IN 1950, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 10 December as Human Rights Day to bring to the attention ‘of the peoples of the world’ the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. On this day it seems fitting that we pay tribute to the late Nelson Mandela, a great man who dedicated his life to making the world a better place for all.

He was a man who was well admired for his beliefs and strong convictions – many of which guide the work that all of us do for public education and our community.

On poverty, he said:

“And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”

Sadly, BC’s rates of child poverty are one of the highest in Canada. We see it every day in our schools, and we know that without food or proper clothing, learning cannot happen. We are fortunate for the generosity of staff who go above and beyond to find community partners who can provide snacks or breakfast,  clothing and other necessities for our students who are in need.

And on education, Mandela had this to say: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

As we look ahead, while 2014 promises to be a year of hope, growth, and excitement, the Board will face extraordinary fiscal challenges in order to maintain current programming. We will continue to work closely with students, parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators to develop ways to address the Ministry of Education’s focus on individualized learning.

The Board wishes to acknowledge the ongoing commitment and dedication of all staff that serve our school communities.

… Finally, as we go into the holiday season, I would like to wish our school families, staff, and the Burnaby community all the best for the Season, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

And if you can, please consider taking Mandela’s lead and offer some assistance to those who are less fortunate – for acts of kindness enrich the lives of both the receiver – and the giver.