This time last year, Carin Bondar was preparing for a research trip to the Amazon. As a biologist, she was headed south to continue work there, where she had previously had a hand in DNA sampling and naming newly found species.
But like so many things, that was cancelled by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. While it could have been a devastating development, Bondar then dialed into her energy and interests in a more local way.
She began teaching with the University of the Fraser Valley’s Faculty of Science, and looked around at how she could further impact Chilliwack socially and in an educational way.
And then, with Dan Coulter’s departure from the Chilliwack school board to sit as MLA, the opportunity arose to join the board. She is among four candidates who have put their name forward for the job, and voters will make their decision on Feb. 13.
“It was the perfect storm of timing and skill set,” she explained in an interview with The Progress. “This is a job I feel I’m highly qualified and motivated to do, but also the timing of the COVID outbreak actually impacted my normal schedule to such a great extent that I’m here in the community and I want to be in the community far more and do a lot more work here.”
And that work includes making Chilliwack and the school district specifically a more inclusive place for all people.
She has four children in the public school system, and says she would never consider another option.
“I am someone who believes greatly in the power of the public system,” she says. “I would never consider not sending my children to public school. That is pretty much the foundation of what a democratic society is.”
She is hoping to bring her “strong sense of moderation skills,” to the board table, and veered away from discussing recent controversies in this interview.
“I have a very well-developed capacity to find unity from diverse topics, and also to bring conversations and bring meanings forward to get tangible work accomplished,” she said, adding “I like putting myself in situations where I can get work done.”
She feels she’ll bring a positive energy to the table, too.
“I think I could be a positive person to bring the board together and get the board working on all those issues that they want to be working on fundamentally, past all this drama.”
And as many of her supporters already know, she is an inclusive candidate.
“I am strongly supportive of the SOGI curriculum,” she said when asked. She also explained the meaning of SOGI, which is two-fold and refers to both sexual orientation and gender identity, and discussed her scientific world view of sexuality. Bondar is a published author on wild animal sexuality. She is also an educator, and addresses the topic of inclusion from a viewpoint of acceptance.
“I think that the way that I teach my own courses at UFV, the way that I parent, is that there is a hate and not hate, I think ‘not hate’ is the only direction forward,” she says. “Certainly people are open to believe what the want and to live the kinds of lives that they want to but everyone has their own identity and they a have right to that, and I don’t think we have any business, in our schools especially, dictating what they may or may not look like.”
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