More than 65 per cent of employees in the Seven Oaks School Division are proficient in languages other than English or French — ranging from Tagalog to Braille, a new survey suggests.
Seven Oaks published its inaugural "This is Us" report on anti-racism, diversity and inclusivity in the northwest Winnipeg division this week.
The document details the results of a 2021 survey of full- and part-time staff in both teaching roles and positions such as clinician and bus driver, about everything from their ethnicity to education level. It also compares the figures to 2016 census data from the Seven Oaks catchment area.
"It’s a positive for us because now, we know who we are," said Greg McFarlane, chairman of the local school board, noting 80 per cent of total staff filled out the questionnaire.
The data show the majority of employees are white, while almost 23 per cent identify as being part of a racialized community, including 12 per cent of whom are Indigenous, nine per cent of whom are South Asian, and seven per cent of whom are Southeast Asian.
According to a section on Indigenous identity by tenure, 17 per cent of Indigenous employees indicated they had been hired a year or less prior to filling out the survey.
Eight per cent of the population identified as a member of the LGBTTQ+ community, with 0.7 per cent reporting having a trans experience.
Seventeen per cent said they were born in another country.
"We’re hoping that whatever changes may be (regarding education reforms), (leaders) take this data into consideration when the government looks at staffing our school division or at least this area so we can make sure we have staff that’s representative of the community," said McFarlane.
In recent months, both Seven Oaks and Louis Riel school divisions have asked staff to self-identify in new divisional surveys to assess whether their workforces are as diverse as the student populations.
The online questionnaires were launched in the wake of the fall release of the Community Education Development Association’s state of equity in education reports.
The reports, which were co-authored with leaders from the Winnipeg Indigenous Executive Circle and Newcomer Education Coalition, highlight the importance of representation in the public school system and the limited data Winnipeg divisions have about the racial makeup of their respective staff rosters.
Louis Riel superintendent Christian Michalik said the questionnaire his division released was "long overdue."
About a quarter of the division’s approximately 2,000 employees have filled out the survey to date.
"The whole purpose of this survey is to move into then an equity audit, if you will, with staff about lived experience and what can we do to ensure that to work and live in LRSD as a staff person is all that it should be in terms of inclusive practices and equitable workplace," Michalik said.
"It will also inform what we need to do to see more diversity on staff."
Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press