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Maple Ridge school board candidate proud of Cree, Metis roots

Aboriginal support worker, Yvonne Desabrais, wants to address gaps in the system
Yvonne Desabrais is seeking her first term on school board. (Special to The News)

A proud Cree, Metis, Nohkom, or grandmother, and Aboriginal support worker with the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school district is hoping to be elected onto school board in the upcoming election.

Yvonne Desabrais is seeking her first term as school board trustee for Maple Ridge.

If elected Desabrais is hoping to: expand and improve the school food program for students and families; address discrimination, racism issues and challenges; be a voice for minorities that don’t feel heard and be an ally for all; and work to ensure schools are safe spaces for all students to learn and grow in the school district.

Desabrais has been an Aboriginal support worker, ASW, with the district since 2016.

“I am part of an amazing group of Indigenous ASW’s who connect with Indigenous students daily. It is an honour to be able to connect with our students,” said Desabrais.

Desabrais came to Maple Ridge in April 2000 and has volunteered for many organizations since. She volunteered with the school district for six years, she was a parent volunteer for four years, a member of the Aboriginal Education Advisory Committee for nine years, and an Aboriginal Education volunteer for nine years.

She has also volunteered at the Friends In Need Food Bank, the Pitt Meadows Women’s Centre, the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, the Port Haney Neighbourhood Change Initiative, and the Haney Farmers Market.

As co-chair for the Port Haney Neighbourhood Change Initiative, Desabrais was part of a team that highlighted ways to address safety issues and improvements in the area, such as the new park on 223 Street and the installation of traffic lights at the intersection of Callaghan Avenue and the Haney Bypass.

Desabrais was also part of creating the Fraser River All Nations Aboriginal Society, which she was vice chair, a group that sought more money for Indigenous community organizations and address gaps in resources for Inuit, Metis, and Native members of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

She was an Aboriginal Community Member Representative for six years and signed the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school district 2015 - 2020 Enhancement Agreement.

Desabrais said that becoming a Nohkom or grandma is a big reason why she decided to run for school board.

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“My grandchild is a large part of why I am being part of the change I would like to see in the world in hopes of improving things for my future grandchildren and all children,” she said.

She noted that she has spent a large amount of my time advocating and working for change in the community and believes that there is opportunity right not to improve things for future generations by respectfully working together.

“I believe we are all equal, we all have a place setting at the table of life. One’s rights do not change just because someone does not like what their place setting looks like. We are all equal human beings,”she said.

“As your School Trustee my goal is to continue to be inclusive and continue to identify and work to address gaps in our system.”

The election is on Saturday, Oct. 15. The Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows Board of Education is made up of five trustees representing Maple Ridge and two trustees representing Pitt Meadows. They are elected every four years at the same time as the mayor and city council for the two municipalities.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

Colleen Flanagan is an award-winning multimedia journalist with more than 15 years experience in the industry.
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