Jesse Lipscombe's #MakeitAwkward Campaign in SD73

Posted On Thursday March 14, 2024

Story provided by Mr. Chris Preymak, Principal, Westsyde Secondary

In the 2022-2027 District Strategic Plan, we are committed to every student feeling safe, included, and welcome in our schools (Human and Social Development Priority). To accomplish this– equity: removing barriers and creating environments that provide accessible and empowering opportunities for all students and staff to thrive– is a cornerstone value.

The District Student Equity Council of secondary students from across the District got together on January 22, 2023 to witness Minister Singh speak at the unveiling of the provincial anti-racism action plan. At that time and since then, these students shared how their racial and cultural identities can become locations of shame and fear when others say negative things based on these aspects of their identities. To prevent or correct these behaviors, it is essential to educate students and staff in safe, welcoming environments in which students are empowered to have courageous conversations when they witness racism in words, actions, text, images, and videos/digital content.

Students and staff are committed to anti-racism education, and we invited Jesse Lipscombe to present to secondary students and share his #MakeItAwkward Campaign. Principal Chris Preymak shared his experiences of having Jesse Lipscombe engage Grades 8-10 students in an anti-racism assembly.

Jesse Lipscombe spoke to our Grade 8 to 10 students at Westsyde Secondary on Wednesday, March 6th. What made Jesse’s presentation so impactful was his ability to connect with high school students on the topic of anti-racism using a combination of engaging presentation styles and relatable content. He started with his own personal story sharing anecdotes and experiences related to racism, discrimination and privilege. This helped him establish a human connection with our student audience and set the tone for the conversation. He successfully incorporated relevant examples and scenarios that included instances of racism or microaggressions that occur in schools and communities. Jesse emphasized the interconnectedness of different forms of oppression, including racism, homophobia and ableism. He discussed how these intersecting identities shape individuals’ experiences and perspectives. At one point in the assembly, he encouraged students to reflect on their own privileges and consider how they can use their positions of power and influence to support marginalized groups. He spoke about how this led him to creating the #MakeitAwkward campaign. Finally, by ending the assembly with a question and answer session, he was able to ask students to take action against racism in their own lives and communities while providing practical strategies for challenging prejudice, promoting inclusivity, and advocating for social justice.

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