At first thought, I was split about the May Day debate. I grew up in New West and attended many May Day festivals starting in the ’60s. I have fond memories of being thrilled to spend the day in Queen’s Park to celebrate May Day. I loved May Day; it was carnival rides, cotton candy and sunshine. It was a ceremony that we could celebrate with every other child in New Westminster.
As a child at Richard McBride Elementary, our curriculum was based on significant historical components of the early development of our city and history of the Fraser River. School field trips included city hall, Irving House and the Japanese friendship gardens. Many of my teachers grew up and lived in New Westminster. Fast-forward to the present day and what is meaningful to the 2017 classroom teacher. The resources needed to teach the diverse classroom are precious and it is difficult to divide the time and squeeze in all the demands of the curriculum.
Classrooms are complex, with exceptional learners, and how do teachers recoup the instructional time taken for May Day? I am concerned for children with self-esteem issues due to poverty, inadequate parenting and families that are struggling with mental health issues. How inclusive and welcoming is this event for them? We need to establish a modern event that embraces the values and traditions we celebrate with May Day. This discussion has me now thinking we could be better served with a community-driven event that becomes a weekend family festival instead of a weekday school event.
Recently, I attended the annual civic dinner at the Anvil Centre, and New Westminster is filled with dedicated volunteers that love to embrace all things #NEWWEST. We should and will figure this debate out in a meaningful way that meets the needs of all the stakeholders.
Dee Beattie, New Westminster