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New artwork promotes diversity, acceptance at Maple Ridge Secondary

Maple Ridge Secondary (MRSS) is an inclusive learning environment that promotes diversity and acceptance — and members of the school’s Rainbow Connections Club want everyone to know it.

The students painted a new emblem at the entrance of the building representing the colours of both the SOGI (sexual orientation, gender identity) and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of colour) flags along with the words “None of us are equal until all of us are equal.”

Teacher Maria Trudeau, who oversees the Rainbow Connections Club, said the artwork serves as an important reminder to anyone walking through the doors that racism, homophobia, and transphobia are not permitted at the school.

The artwork lets students “know they are safe to be who they are,” Trudeau said. “It makes them feel recognized and included. Those are all things that are important for students to learn.”

The paint and supplies were donated by a former MRSS class of 1991 graduate Lorna Seip, who runs a painting company in Chilliwack. She also provided some direction and assistance in bringing the students’ vision to the wall.

“We played around with different images using those colours,” Trudeau said. “This is the one the whole group chose as the perfect one to do.”

The new emblem is being acknowledged outside of Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District 42.

B.C. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside sent a letter to the school earlier this month, congratulating the students “on this pivotal artwork,” noting that diversity and inclusion are important priorities in B.C.’s education system.

“The mural… is an important symbol of acceptance for students as they enter the school each day,” she wrote. “Promoting diversity and inclusive education ensures each student has equal opportunity to take full advantage of their education regardless of their ability or disability, past academic performance, language ability, refugee status, family socioeconomic status, race, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.”

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