On The Campaign Trail

Three of our fellow kababayans are vying for School Board Trustee positions in the upcoming 2022 Municipal and School Boards Elections on October 26th. Perla Javate for Ward 6, Dante Aviso for Ward 5, and Anne Evangelista for Ward 9. School trustees play a vital role in ensuring that our schools provide quality education for all students. As election day nears, learn more about your fellow kabayans and how they plan on making an impact in our education system. (Handout Photos)

Javate, Aviso and Evangelista vie for school board trustee positions with clear visions to improve the school system

Education is the very basic foundation in the formative stage of our children as future leaders in our city.

The challenges that our educators face have never been greater. There is a changing demographic and constant influx of new immigrants, as well as discouraging negative results from educational engagement among other things like truth and reconciliation initiatives. This all makes for some tough situations in schools across Canada. These are tasks to be shouldered by the members of the school board who right now are facing at the height of an election to form a new governing body of policymakers.

The Filipino Journal has compiled the visions and missions of the three board of trustee candidates, namely, Perla Javate for Ward 6; Dante Aviso, Ward 5; and Ann Evangelista, Ward 9 who have been working hard in the Filipino community and beyond as volunteers and fully considered as catalysts for change.

These three hardworking candidates will hold power to address the needs and problems in our school system, and the future of our children will be based on their actions together with other members of the School Board of Trustees.

As a voter, be also a change agent, and on October 26, and during the advance voting, consider Javate, Aviso, and Evangelista as your voices in our educational system.

FJ: What inspired you to be a candidate as a member of the School Board of Trustees in your ward?

Perla Javate: The chance to serve in a position where I can effect change through policymaking is truly inspiring. There are gaps in the system that need to be addressed so all children are given the chance to grow and develop to be the best that they can be. All children deserve a quality education and our children: immigrants, refugees, indigenous and disadvantaged students need representation in our School Board. These are the only reasons why I am running as School Trustees for Ward 6.

Dante Aviso: As a long-time community leader, volunteer, and literacy advocate and my passion and willingness to serve the community inspired me to run as School Trustee in the Winnipeg School Division Ward 5.

Ann Evangelista: The people who nominated me to the School Board- my fellow teachers, educators, parents of special children, staff and workers in school, co-workers, guardians and caregivers, and community volunteers- all inspired me to run for this position. These people believe that as an experienced educator, teacher, and parent, I know what it takes to create meaningful change in the educational system. Our WSD students, teachers, families, and workers need the support of a strong school board that listens to what they need. I believe in public education and I will fight to create a school culture of leadership and make sure our kids get the very best.

FJ: In your own perspective and knowledge, what are the basic problems being faced by the students and parents in the current school system, and given those obstacles, what positive move will you make to strengthen or improve the system?

Perla Javate: At this particular time, coming out from the challenges faced by our schools during the pandemic, the children going through online instructions, and the problems that went with it (technical challenges, etc.): 1) worry about the quality of education during COVID; 2) Too much dependence on technology; 3) Lack of or weak in basic skills; 4) Mental health issues.

Ann Evangelista: I did my Psychology (Honours) thesis on how having a child with autism impacts families. My findings indicated that the largest stress on families is the lack of support. We need robust support for students with mental and physical disabilities in our system. Families should not have to fight for their children to access what others take for granted. We need to give schools the resources they need to make all students feel welcome and supported. My three main platforms are 1. Pathways to Post-Secondary and Jobs 2. Food programs for vulnerable children and 3. Community Engagement

Dante Aviso: In secondary education compared to 90% of the other different wards have different problems. In Ward 5 of the Winnipeg School Division, only 50 percent of Aboriginals stay in school and finish Grade 12 compared to 90 percent of non-aboriginal students. Parts of the cause of the problems are poverty, addiction, mental health, peer pressure, etc. In order to alleviate the problems, I will advocate and recommend universal meal programs and after-school programs; introduce culture-sensitive and mentorship programs, and encourage community dialogues or town hall meetings just to name a few.

FJ: In view of multiculturalism, what are your plans to improve ethnicity in schools, giving you a total view of many new minorities or newcomers in our school system?

Perla Javate: 60% of the total student population of WSD is composed of indigenous, Filipinos, and other newcomer students from other countries. The demographics of WSD has changed and it is therefore important that the staffing, at all levels, should be reflective of the student they serve. The last Board passed the Equity in Education motion. This incoming Board should make sure that this Policy is implemented efficiently and in a timely manner.

Ann Evangelista: Over half of WSD students are radicalized or Indigenous. Representation is so important and school teachers, admin, and staff should reflect this. A study from the Newcomer Education Coalition called for equity in hiring processes for schools in Manitoba. The school board has a responsibility to follow up on these recommendations and examine hiring processes and procedures.
It is imperative that we work together with the stakeholders to evaluate the existing policies for ethnic minority recruitment, retention, and training, and all the other educational programs affecting the students. We need to identify the areas where we have been doing well and continue to do those. At the same time, we need to identify the areas for improvement and empower the teachers, parents, students, and staff to be involved in programs that would benefit them.

Dante Aviso: Ward 5 is very culturally diverse. I support and implement more liason workers that will represent the cultural diversity of the schools, hire more teachers and teacher’s assistants that can speak other than English, and procure more educational resources and learning aids like books, magazines, audiovisuals that are culturally sensitive and promote and preserve their culture and heritage.

FJ: Are you in favor of centralizing or consolidating the Board of Trustees into a few divisions for efficiency and for effectiveness in delivering the services to the community?

Perla Javate: WSD is the biggest division and its demographics make it evident that it has its own set of needs and therefore requires corresponding programs and services. Centralizing or consolidating is a simplistic way of ensuring effective services in a complex setting, which may have a reverse effect.

Ann Evangelista: I am in favor of the efficiency and effectiveness of the Board in decision-making, delivering programs and services, and formulating policies. However, centralizing or consolidating the Board of Trustees may not necessarily be the solution. First, we need to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing paradigm. Second, we need to consult all the stakeholders for input and assessments. Third, we need to make sound decisions based on evidence obtained from these evaluations and consultations. If, after doing all these steps, the majority believes that centralizing or consolidating the Board of Trustees is the solution, then we can move forward to the next steps.

Dante Aviso: I am not in favor of amalgamation or consolidation. This streamlining process will put more burden of responsibility on the Board of Trustees who already have a full plate to tackle. There are some wards that already have more than a dozen schools in their jurisdictions and I think right now, the wards are evenly distributed.

FJ: In lieu of the current “Child Matters” movement, how do you incorporate the ” Truth and Reconciliation” into the system, serving as the bridge or link to the history of the residential school system in the past?

Perla Javate: This matter is addressed in the curriculum. As an incoming Trustee, the role is to be informed of the current state first. Subsequent actions will be based on the information collected. It is important for all Canadians to be one in knowing, understanding, and building empathy toward the residential school experience.

Ann Evangelista: Every individual who lives in Canada today has a role to play towards reconciliation. “Truth and Reconciliation” ensure public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools and aims to transform this trauma into peace, harmony, and staying connected with one another. Values education starts at home and should be supplemented by the teachings in schools and even within the community. I will be an advocate of the “Every Child Matters” movement and will implement programs and policies to strengthen it. Through healthcare, media, and education, more people will gain a deeper understanding of its meaning and would thereby advocate for the same purpose.

Dante Aviso: I support the “Truth and Reconciliation” movement. The aboriginal community needs support and healing from the educational system. Wearing orange shirts is not enough to acknowledge the mistakes in the past. There should be a more proactive approach like supporting cultural programs, more access to aboriginal books and educational materials, increasing aboriginal language programs, and hiring more aboriginal teachers and assistants among others.

FJ: What would be your priorities if elected as a member of the School Board Trustees?

Perla Javate: The first challenge I will face is learning about the job. I will be guided by my motivation for going for the position, and that is: ensuring quality education for ALL children. It is important to provide: 1) Outreach programs for vulnerable students that help build relationships between families and schools; 2) Support for teachers who are our valuable frontline workers responsible for the education of our children. The need to recognize their contributions and listen to their concerns and provide support; and 3) Early intervention for students who are transitioning into and within the school system.

Ann Evangelista: My priorities are the following: 1)support for children with special needs; 2) pathways to post-secondary opportunities and jobs; 3) food programs for vulnerable children; and most importantly, 4) community engagement. I would like to listen to the voices of the parents and teachers and share those issues with the Board as I work with them to propose solutions to the problems and concerns raised by them.

Dante Aviso: If elected as a School Board of Trustee, my goals are to maximize student potential, increase after-school programs, implement universal meal programs, introduce more culturally sensitive programs, support equity, diversity, and inclusion in the public education system, and improve community dialogues, implement new adult work training programs in Winnipeg Adult Education Center.

FJ: What is your message to our kababayans and voters in this coming October 26, 2022 election?

Perla Javate: Please come out and vote. To vote is a right and privilege we enjoy as part of a democratic society. Let us not take it for granted. Exercise this right by voting wisely. Vote for who you think is the best candidate for the position.
We are electing our civic leaders: Mayor, Councilors, and School Trustees.
Please read about the candidates and make your choice.

Ann Evangelista: Canada is our home, and when we took our citizenship oath, we pledged to perform our duties as Canadians. Voting in civic, provincial and federal elections and taking part in community affairs are among the citizens’ responsibilities. Our duty doesn’t end here. Regardless of whether one has children or not in the public school system, everyone needs to be involved in this significant undertaking. We are also called to support the people who will be elected to different positions. If I get elected, I would like you to work with us for the future of all children in Winnipeg School Division. This is just the beginning. Together, we can make a difference! I invite you all to reach out to me through my website: annevangelista.ca or my email: annevangelistaforschooltrustee@gmail.com. MABUHAY PO!

Dante Aviso: My message to our Kababayans is let’s be proactive in the community. Be a civic-minded person. We have the largest Filipino community in Canada per capita and we should use our voice to make an effective change in the community. We need representation in different aspects be it in education, politics, employment, and others. So please let us exercise our right to vote!

FJ: Now that you have read our kababayans’ visions and missions as members of the Board of Trustees, and may we request your full support for them to become active and creative representatives of our growing Filipino community.