School Board elections
IMAGE asked candidates to introduce themselves in a text describing their experience and the projects they want to accomplish on the board.
Candidates for School Board Trustees
With 40 years experience in education, Cindy Desclouds-Simpson seeks the position of Trustee with the Ottawa Catholic School Board. As a Catholic teacher for 21 years, a Catholic Principal for 13 years and the Executive Director of Youville Centre (a non-profit accredited mental health centre, accredited high school and a child development centre for adolescent mothers and their children) for six years, Cindy brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in Catholic instruction/community, curriculum, special education and child and youth mental health to this position. She has proven leadership, communication, managerial, financial and public accountability acumen. Participation in community networks and committees such as United Way Ottawa, the Child and Youth Mental Health Network of Ottawa, and the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Steering Committee of Ottawa, have given Cindy an informed glimpse into the challenges faced by many children and youth in the Ottawa area. With a proven career commitment to children and youth, it is not surprising that Cindy’s campaign slogan “Make all children and youth count” demonstrates her commitment to all children and youth, despite race, gender identification, ethnicity, socio-economic status, academic, social or personal challenges, receiving equitable access to Catholic education curriculum and resources so that all might have the opportunity to reach their full potential. A vote for Cindy is a vote for all children and youth in your community!
Thérèse Maloney-Cousineau, incumbent in OCSB Zone 10 did not respond to IMAGE’s email.
Lyra Evans is an activist, an openly LGBTQ person, and an advocate for progressive change. Lyra came out as trans in addition to struggling with homelessness during high school, a difficult experience for her that highlighted for her the difference between a policy of inclusion and a truly inclusive environment. Since leaving the OCDSB, Lyra has organized around LGBTQ and homelessness issues. She has been recognized for her work with several awards, including a Feminist Emmy (Amnesty) in 2016 and the Social Justice and Community Empowerment Award (Youth Line) in 2018. Lyra has also given sex-education classes through Planned Parenthood, and taken part in sex-ed performances in high schools all over Ottawa with Insight Theatre. Lyra hopes to bring progressive change to the OCDSB through fair funding of schools, equity, and by fighting to preserve comprehensive sex-education.
Lyra was a student in the OCDSB for 12 years. During this time, she witnessed the direct impact of economic inequality on education. Lyra attended a school with over a dozen cramped portables during her elementary years, and later one of the most prestigious high schools in Ontario, with over 150 years of alumni to draw upon for extra funding. While guest speakers, field trips, and well-stocked libraries may seem unessential, they have an immeasurable impact on a student’s experience of school. However, some schools don’t have the same capacity to fundraise to afford these opportunities for their students. Lyra believes that a student’s quality of education should not depend on their catchment area, and will advocate that the board reallocate more of its budget to fairly fund low-income schools.
We all want the OCDSB to be a place where every student has the chance to reach their potential. However, marginalized students have been shown to feel less welcome in school, face higher rates of suspension and detention, and are less likely to graduate than their peers. To combat this, Lyra will encourage the OCDSB to collect better data on racialized, disabled, and LGBTQ students to determine what the board can do to help them succeed.
This fall, Ontario is reverting to a version of the 1998 sex-education curriculum. Students will now be taught from a curriculum that no longer covers consent, sexting, cyberbullying, same-sex relationships, and gender identity. In addition to repealing the 2015 curriculum, the provincial government has rescinded efforts to incorporate Indigenous content into social science curriculums. Education is a central part of the Truth and Reconciliation process, and Ontario needs to do more to acknowledge the culture and heritage of our Indigenous people. Lyra will use her position to support teachers who continue to teach the updated 2015 sex-ed curriculum, and to lobby the province to bring back comprehensive sex-ed and Truth and Reconciliation.
Lyra’s history as a student of the OCDSB, a sex-educator, and a community organizer make her ideally suited to represent and defend the needs of students.
I decided to run for a trustee position in 2018 because I care about the future of children and youth. Because I care about cultivating a culture of achievement, inclusivity, and opportunity. Because I care about the mental health and physical well-being of students. And because I think we can do better for students in Ottawa.
I believe in equal access to quality education as all youth deserve a chance to develop their skills with modern technology. We should aim high: to create an engaging environment to promote self-assured, intelligent, and well-prepared students for what comes after school. We need to give them the means to succeed outside of a classroom setting. I want them to have access to the support they need such as quality infrastructure, a safe learning environment, mental health support, and an outlet for creativity and suppressed energy.
I believe that supporting and promoting a strong sense of community while understanding and responding to the needs of residents is how solutions are best reached in the face of challenge. I will advocate for public education that meets the needs of all students and families in the OCDSB no matter the age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic standing. Having been a public servant for over a decade, I understand the need for wide-ranging engagement in decision making and will work hard to serve the residents of the community. I will work tirelessly to ensure that our community’s children receive a high-caliber, current education—and that staff have the necessary resources and support to provide this.
Our schools and youth need us now, more than ever. They need resolutions reached with proper consultation, strong decision making in challenging circumstances, and someone who is willing to work with the community to build trust. Someone with experience. I can offer that and more. I have been an active member in the Ottawa area with youth groups through initiatives such as Grow Smart Girls and empowering students to find confidence through sport, namely rugby. From my experience in high level sport over the past 20 years, I understand the need for relationship building to achieve goals, a champion for difficult issues, and the positive impact that a healthy lifestyle can have on mental and physical wellbeing.
I will engage with the community to ensure that views from parents, students, and other stakeholders are heard. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss any school board issues—it would be my pleasure to speak with you. firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours in education,
Rose LaBrèche is a public servant and international rugby match official who represented Canada at the 2016 Summer Olympics.