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News: Friday, March 12th, 2021

Rick Hansen Nominated for Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Award


Rick Hansen Secondary School was nominated for a Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Award in the category of small/ medium organization for inclusion.  Yesterday, the awards looked place and while we didn’t win, we were excited for the nomination as a recognition of the brave spaces we have as a staff, and school community have walked in to talking about inclusion, equity, diversity and more.   Well done to all our students and staff for their being fearless advocates for all! 


Rick Hansen Secondary School opened in 1993 and is in its 28th year of serving the students of Abbotsford.  The “catchment” area for Rick Hansen Secondary is the west side of Abbotsford from Clearbrook Road to the Abbotsford/ Aldergrove/ Langley border.  A robust school of 800 with students in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12, we have academic, and athletic programs within a multi-cultural atmosphere.  Over the past 5 years, we have envisioned the school with a foundation of inquiry/ project-based learning pedagogy encouraging student voice and choice in their authentic, relevant demonstrations of learning featuring interdisciplinary teaching, innovative assessment practices, while leveraging technology to support students social, emotional, and academic success.   A leader in education, we have worked with both the Ministry of Education, PBL World and High Tech High in the USA and have been featured in numerous articles both in Canada and the US on powerful learning practices.

How do you effectively embrace diversity and create a welcoming environment for culturally diverse groups in your organization, business, or school? Explain how you work towards building an inclusive community, ensuring everyone reaches their full potential. . 

By embracing a teaching pedagogy (instructional practices) which allows students regardless of their starting point to achieve success we have worked towards providing equity for all students regardless of their background, learning strengths or weaknesses, economic advantages, or disadvantages and/ or their primary/ secondary language.  We focus on the learning process not the product by using an inquiry-based teaching design.   The process allows for all students to have different starting and ending points on their learning journey which is personalized and individualized.

Each year, we welcome 40 plus new immigrant families into our school whose parents are working in Canada.  Our new students arrive with various levels of English proficiency.  We have a transition program which allows for students to transition into an environment that helps them navigate a new education system, a new country, and build relationships and friends within their community.  Our English Language Learners team meets with families and works to place students into classes based on their interests, and language ability.  Further, we offer support as students in adapting to Canada like field trips, navigating the bus system, where / how to find basic needs etc.  We offer support to parents too in the shape of parent workshops given in their first language on things like reading a report card, how to access community and education supports etc.

We encourage student voice or feedback on what is happening at school from a student’s perspective.  We have a teacher professional development group which meets every second Wednesday on the topic on Unity and Diversity.  Teachers pose questions to students who then respond in video format.  The teachers watch the video, as feedback on their practices, culture, and routines.  Questions have included:  how is inquiry learning working for you? what does acceptance at school like? How are we making connections between teachers and students? etc.  These video vignettes have become powerful collaborative teaching moments as we work to better understanding our practices and the impact on students.  We also have student focus groups who provide feedback to the administration on a variety of topics around inclusion and equity. 

At Rick Hansen, we are very proud of the vast array of clubs which support the welcoming, accepting, inclusive environment at the school that embraces each of us for who are as a diverse group of individuals and learners.  To that end, our Diversity Alliance Club, under the leadership of Lukis Kind, has created a culture of acceptance for LGBTQ students and students who have interests, passions, and more beyond orientation – this has branched out into a gaming club, a bhangra club, a kabaddi team etc.  The message clearly i:  be who you are, embrace your interest and welcome to the club.  Other examples of the same culture of diversity, inclusion and acceptance are the Global Awareness Club, or the powHERful club which both encourage students from diverse background to make a difference in the school and the community while embracing their own passions or encouraging a belief in themselves.

Foundational to all the above, is the belief by teachers that we are here to serve students, to have them discover who and what they are, and to build a school in which all students can achieve success.