Principal's Perspective | 08-Dec-2016

Celebrating Our Diversity this Lunar New Year

By Rosemary Evans, Principal

The UTS family will soon be coming together to celebrate the Lunar New Year. This special community event reflects our diversity and commitment to inclusion. It is also in line with research that clearly indicates that students who attend schools where the population is diverse in many dimensions – including race, culture, religion, language and socio-economic variables, learn to navigate cross-cultural differences. In 2009, the Ontario government issued a document entitled: Realizing the Value of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Ontario Schools. The document was premised on three definitions: 

Diversity: The presence of a wide range of human qualities and attributes within a group, organization, or society. The dimensions of diversity include, but are not limited to, ancestry, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, language, physical and intellectual ability, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status. 

Equity: A condition or state of fair, inclusive, and respectful treatment of all people. Equity does not mean treating people the same without regard for individual differences. 

Inclusive Education: Education that is based on the principles of acceptance and inclusion of all students. Students see themselves reflected in their curriculum, their physical surroundings, and the broader environment in which diversity is honoured and all individuals are respected.

UTS, as part of its strategic goals, is committed to realizing the potential of a diverse community and ensuring equity and inclusion for all members. Achieving this goal requires us to question our assumptions, policies and practices on an ongoing basis.  It also demands that we continuously strive to enhance the equity, inclusion and diversity of our community through intentional reflection and research.

In 2014, UTS implemented an Equity and Inclusion policy. As part of the policy, the school developed specific equity goals to: 

  1. create a learning environment that is inclusive while respecting individual differences and multiple perspectives; 
  2. develop  students’ ethical integrity and character, and a commitment to fair and equitable treatment of their peers, and other members of the UTS and wider community;
  3. give students, employees, parents and volunteers the behavioural tools, vocabulary, insight and confidence to build an equitable and inclusive community and act as advocates for those whose discrimination goes unnoticed or unchallenged;
  4. identify, address and strive to eliminate unjust or inequitable treatment within UTS and the wider community.

UTS students have demonstrated their interest in these issues and their commitment to equity and inclusion through several groups, including the Gender Equity Committee, Queer Straight Alliance, Day of Pink Committee, and Indigenous Solidarity Committee. 

The UTS Parents Association will be hosting the Lunar New Year event on January 21 in partnership with UTS. All members of the UTS community are invited to attend and to celebrate together. The Lunar New Year is marked in many Asian nations including China, Korea, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, and Philippines. While Asian cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year in different ways, the most important tradition is bringing together family and friends and enjoying a New Year’s dinner. This year we hope many members of the UTS family will come together for this special community event that celebrates our diversity and commitment to inclusion.