A local community organizer is the first non-sitting trustee to announce a run for the Chilliwack school board this fall.
Willow Reichelt is an artist and was a teacher for 14 years in the district up until five years ago.
Reichelt is among those who have been outspoken in recent months in support of inclusivity and tolerance in the classroom, in the face of opposition to a Ministry of Education teaching resource on the subject of gender identity in the classroom.
Reichelt’s is the co-founder of Chilliwack’s first little free library (the Literary Owl Little Free Library), the organizer and emcee of You Belong Here (an event held in 2017 to support Muslims and other immigrants), the organizer of two LGBTQ support rallies in 2017 and 2018, and a member of the organizing committee and emcee for the first March for Women in Chilliwack in January 2018.
Also having announced a run for re-election, are sitting trustees Dan Coulter and Barry Neufeld, the former a strong supporter of the SOGI 123 anti-bullying resource and the latter a strong opponent of it.
Coulter announced his campaign for the Oct. 20 election a few weeks ago, and Neufeld announced back in November at an anti-SOGI meeting that he would run for re-election “on the platform of a more positive, gender-based teaching of students.”
Coulter has said in the past that it doesn’t matter whether school boards accept the SOGI 123 resource or not since schools have to follow the Human Rights Code.
“If they’re not using the actual SOGI they’re using something that approximates it,” Coulter said at a November meeting of provincial trustees.
As for Reichelt, she was born in Chilliwack, attended three local schools, and has two sons who have attended school here (one who has just graduated and one who will be in grade 10 in September).
Her husband is a teacher/librarian and she’s pursued her art full-time.
She says her platform focuses on learning support, communication, and inclusion.
Reichelt has a particular interest in providing increased educational assistant time, smaller classes, and guaranteed access to intensive reading interventions like the Early Success Program.
“[I want] Chilliwack schools to be welcoming and inclusive for all members of the school community regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or economic status,” she said in a press release.