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Living the values of Diversity

It only takes one conversation with CFIS’ Head of School, Mme Margaret Dorrance, to understand the value she places on creating an inclusive, internationally-minded environment for our students, faculty and staff. Throughout our school, lesson plans are tailored to support this mindset and to nurture our students to be active leaders who will change the world for the better. Here, Mme Dorrance explains where this passion started, and how it has become a way of life at CFIS.

"When I was in Grade 11 (which, for those who are wondering, was several decades ago!), I took three courses at school that had a significant impact on me at that time, and their impressions linger to this day. In various classes, I learned about world religions, studied the apartheid system in South Africa, and was first introduced to the horrors of World War II and the holocaust. These three subjects, combined with my love of the French, Spanish, and Latin languages, heavily influenced my decision to become a teacher. They opened my eyes to the vast world beyond my experience, which at the time, was limited to small slices of Canada and the United Kingdom.

Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have had many opportunities to incorporate the teachings of what was previously known as 'Tolerance and Understanding' (in the 1980s), and then 'Multiculturalism' (in the 1990s and 2000s) at the Alberta Education level, the Calgary Board of Education level, and as a leader in two independent schools. Visiting the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, and speaking at length with Martin Luther King III at a Calgary We Day, were two unforgettable highlights of my work on this topic.

 

The way educators teach children about what is now known as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion continues to evolve. Educators in general – myself included – continue to learn how to best speak about and teach the subject of diversity. At CFIS, our foundational programming started with UNESCO and has more recently incorporated Round Square and International Baccalaureate values. These programs contribute to our students understanding and indeed living the values of diversity beginning at a very early age. Just as importantly, they align with and enhance our school’s emphasis on mutual respect, cultural diversity, international perspectives, inquisitiveness about and understanding of the world beyond our experience, and ethical, responsible citizenship.

I believe that it is understood by all members of our community that CFIS is an educational institution where all religions, colours, orientations, and gender expressions are acknowledged and accepted. I also believe that we can and must never stop reinforcing the importance of cultural peace and understanding. I am reminded of a statement made recently by a former CFIS parent, in response to a question about what he valued most about the school. He had stated, 

“CFIS is an incredibly inclusive community that does not differentiate between cultures and religions. The school has actively celebrated religious and social events from a variety of cultures during the four years that my children attended the school.”

This filled my heart with joy since it is exactly what I would hope to hear from both current, and former parents and students about our school.”

The topics of diversity, equity and inclusion, will forever be evolving and will provide us with ample opportunities to learn and grow. It is with an open mind and heart, that we welcome and continue to move forward towards a more inclusive future at CFIS.