By: Pranjali J Mann, News Writer
Gabe Liosis, former SFSS president and current student at SFU, will run for trustee in the School District 42 Board of Education in Maple Ridge. The elections will be held on October 15, according to the official Maple Ridge election page.
The Peak interviewed Liosis to find out more about his campaign. Being involved in school and community since Grade 9, Liosis said he always worked towards creating change in the community. He worked with senior district staff and the Board of Education in Maple Ridge to engage in advocacy through his high school student council. He noted, “Through [this] experience I started developing a sense of ‘hey, this is actually a place where a lot of change happens’ within the education system within Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.”
When asked what prompted him to put his name through in this election, he said, “I think that young people don’t usually put their name forward for positions like this, and it’s really unfortunate because I do strongly believe that youth should be at decision making tables like the school Board and city Councils.
“Any decision making body youth deserves a voice at the table and I really want to be the person who puts their name forward, puts their voice forward,” said Liosis.
Some of the key issues his campaign revolved around is “to try and connect the youth voice to the Board.”
Another key issue that inspired Liosis to run for trustee is the negative impacts of COVID-19 and how remote learning impacted school experiences. “School age children have gone through significant mental health challenges,” during in-person and remote learning, said Liosis. “Even when they were in person it was very stressful because COVID-19 protocols were always changing. They weren’t able to experience the milestones that they would normally be able to achieve, like field trips, graduation, social events and because of that, mental health has significantly deteriorated amongst youth,” said Liosis.
Liosis pointed to the persistent issue pertaining to accessibility of mental health services among youth. He stated, “There are lots of services within the community at large. The problem is there are so many of them. [ . . . ] It’s incredibly difficult to navigate.”
Liosis added, “I think there’s a lot of work that can be done at the school Board level and as a school Board trustee to advocate at all levels of government for better mental health services embedded within schools themselves.”
Additionally, he hopes to build on the work already underway by the ministry of education to add Indigenous curriculum in high school. He mentioned “implementation of that across the province is incredibly sporadic, it is not centralized in any way, shape, or form.” If elected, he would advocate for a coordinated delivery of Indigenous curriculum.
Further, he wished to increase support around LGBTQIAS2+ education. In Liosis’ press release, he said, “Growing up as an openly gay youth was challenging [ . . . ] but I always had teachers I could confide in, and a community that espoused equality and camaraderie.” He aims to “work with the community and district staff to enhance other LGBTQIAS2+ youth’s experiences in schools.”
Reflecting also on his experience as SFSS president, Liosis noted, “I would say that my experience with the SFSS and the skills I learned there directly correlate to the new role that I am running for now.”
Emphasizing the importance of municipal elections, he noted, “Your votes for your school Board trustees and your city councillors, those are the politicians that actually impact your life in the closest way possible.” He urged young people to vote in the upcoming elections on October 15.
For more information on SD42’s trustees, visit the School District 42 website.