DPAC Opening Speech (two minutes), 5 October 2022
I'm Sheelah Donahue, Vice Chair of the board. For the past eight years I’ve had the honour of being a trustee. I’m Human Resources Vice Chair, Audit Committee Chair, and the local Provincial Council rep. I’ve served as DPAC Chair, Rockridge PAC co-chair, and on many other committees and boards, but in this part of the evening I’d like to tell you about the work I do now on your behalf, and why my experience qualifies me to continue as one of your trustees.
In addition to HR and Financial Audit, I’m the trustee member of the Indigenous Education Council, Sempulyan is my counterpart in the Squamish Nation. We are dedicated to formalizing our relationships with Indigenous partners and bringing this work to life in a way that enriches our students and honours the history of this land.
I’m co-chair of joint traffic and safety, along with a municipal councillor, your DPAC rep, bylaw, police, and engineering and facilities staff. Speed bumps, safety blitzes, and flashing crosswalks are some of the tangible results of this work. There’s much more to do, particularly around improving public transit, and safe biking and walking, and I hope to continue this work for you.
Last year I was elected to our BC Trustees Association metro branch executive. I collaborate with colleagues from Metro Vancouver to advocate for issues common to our region. The mentorship I’ve received has been invaluable both as a new trustee, and today.
This year my metro peers elected me to the provincial learning committee. PLC helps set the course for trustee orientation and professional development throughout BC.
I’m part of the Metro English Language Learners Consortium. This group is made up of teachers, staff, SWIS workers, trustees and administrators. We work toward common goals and advocate with Provincial and Federal government to ease the transition for students and families new to Canada.
I do this work so I can make informed decisions based on up-to-date information on issues that impact school communities here in our district. The education landscape changes quickly, and for many reasons, and it is essential that you elect trustees who commit to being engaged and enthusiastic throughout the term and you have my word that I will continue to be a tireless advocate for you and your children, and I ask for your vote in this election.
DPAC Closing Speech (two minutes)
Earlier this evening I told you about my work as a trustee here in our district, regionally, and provincially. That was the how. Now I’d like to tell you about the why.
I do this work because I love our community and I believe in public education. A thriving public system benefits everyone, not just those who have children in schools. I want to help keep public education great here in our district, for our families and for our staff and students. I want to protect what's good about our school system, be part of solutions where there are challenges, and work for positive change that honours newcomers, the people who came before us, and the history of this land.
I want to protect our programs of excellence. Our academic offerings are second to none. AP, IB, French Immersion, we offer something for everyone including our many clubs and academies—like robotics and fencing, and music programs that enrich the lives of so many, and by the way, we have some of the finest student musicians in the country.
The learning outcomes and lives of our students are diverse, and we must ensure that everyone, including those without designations, receives the support they need. These are the things that are important to our parents and these are the things we need to protect.
We can only achieve these goals with good governance, and that is the central role of a trustee. We are challenged, however, by daunting fiscal constraints, COVID recovery, and rapid social change. Nonetheless, we must deliver the finest educational outcomes for our students, prepare them for a smooth transition into their future, and manage childcare—an emerging part of the education landscape.
This work is not tied to municipal election cycles and I have the experience needed to provide continuity as an effective advocate for complex issues involving all three levels of government, while keeping the needs of our school communities front and centre.
When I stood here 2014 and 2018, I promised to work diligently for you and your children, and once again, I ask for your vote on October 15, or in the advance polls, so I can do the same in the upcoming term.
Bowen Opening Speech (one minute), 2 October 2022
I’m Sheelah Donahue, vice-chair of the board and chair of our Audit committee. I’ve served as DPAC Chair, on many school committees, and as a director and coach of youth sports including minor hockey and little league, both of which represent Bowen. I recognize the unique relationship between BICS and the community, and the demographic and transportation challenges not seen elsewhere.
When I stood before you four years ago, and asked for your vote, I promised to work hard on your behalf and I’ve kept that promise. Today, I am a representative at the English Language Learners consortium and I’m the trustee council member working on the protocol agreement with the Squamish nation. In 2021 I became a member of our regional branch executive and this year was elected to the provincial professional learning committee.
Respect, kindness, and honouring different learning styles are important to me. So are fiscal responsibility, academic excellence, innovative programs, and staff wellbeing. I want to make public education great for our children, our staff, and our community, and I ask you to vote for me on October 15th.
Bowen Closing Speech (one minute)
There’s a lot of work ahead, especially coming out of COVID. We’re facing fiscal challenges of a magnitude not seen before. And, although learning loss and declines in physical fitness were mitigated by keeping our schools open as much as possible, the pandemic took a toll on the mental health of our students, staff, and families.
Now, more than ever we need responsible governance and strong student supports. Because of my work in BCSTA, our provincial body, I understand this landscape and the need for strategic funding advocacy so we can continue to offer enriched educational experiences, not just in classrooms but in gardens, forests, arts, clubs, and academies.
As I did in 2014 and 2018, I promise to serve you, and the children of Bowen Island, with integrity, dedication, and enthusiasm. I’ll continue to uphold traditions of excellence that both attract the best and brightest staff, and prepare students to face their future with confidence.
There’s a lot to be proud of here on Bowen, and in our district, and I ask you to cast a vote for me so I can continue to work on your behalf.