Vancouver school board candidate calls for ‘sanctuary schools’ policy

The Vancouver School Board is being called upon to adopt a “sanctuary schools” policy.

Jennifer Reddy, who is looking to run for a seat on the school board under the OneCity banner, said all children should have the right to an education regardless of their immigration status.

“There’s definitely the aspect of fear that students, and if they’re here with their parents, that they would face from approaching the school and ultimately that ends up becoming an issue for our wider community,” she said.

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“Not only in Vancouver, but across Canada, we’ve got young people not accessing education because they’re too scared of being asked about their status.”

Reddy said some newcomers describe being afraid, or unable to register their children at different B.C. school districts based on registration requirements.

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In some cases, she said migrants fear deportation or separation from their children given their precarious status.

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“It’s one of those demographics that is quite invisible because you won’t know they’re out there, because they won’t come to the school to make themselves known. So that is part of the challenge,” she said.

Reddy said she knows of a 15-year-old homeless immigrant who wanted to attend school, but was too afraid come forward and try to enroll.

“We would have been able to help him acquire some resources, especially around shelter.”

New Westminster became the first school district in B.C. to adopt a sanctuary schools policy last year.

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