Your Local News

in Chatsworth, Grey Highlands, Southgate, West Grey

The Village Banner ad
Grey County Reads
Annesley Events

April 11, 2024

Bluewater District School Board holds first Black Student Forum

Guest speaker Orlando Bowen presenting to students

Guest speaker Orlando Bowen presenting to students.

“We need you here.” “We are here because we care.” “We just want you to win.” 

These were among the powerful key messages delivered by guest speaker, Orlando Bowen, to approximately 75 students from secondary schools across the region convening for Bluewater District School Board’s (BWDSB’s) first ever Black Student Forum.

Guest speaker Orlando Bowen (far left) with Grey Highlands Secondary School staff and students

Guest speaker Orlando Bowen (far left) with Grey Highlands Secondary School staff and students.

Hosted at Grey Highlands Secondary School on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, the event provided an outlet to elevate the student voice and opportunity for dialogue and sharing for those identifying as Black or a person of colour. Community partners were also on hand along with school and system level staff to help guide and participate in the day’s learning.

Orlando’s engaging and gripping presentation was filled with anecdotes detailing his resilience in the pursuit and achievement of personal goals despite obstacles and adversity. Some of these have included working with the homeless, refugee communities, and sick children, in addition to athletic aspirations. Students also heard about a traumatic incident from Orlando’s past when undercover police officers wrongly targeted, assaulted, and arrested him. While the officers were held accountable for their actions and Orlando acquitted, it was a harsh lesson in the discrimination and injustices that people of colour continue to face and must overcome.

As the founder of the youth leadership organization, One Voice One Team, Orlando encouraged the students to think about their impact on the lives others and choose to become difference-makers.

“There is no us and them. Otherwise, we all lose.” Orlando’s overall message was one steeped in unity and the adoption of a big picture perspective.

Orlando Bowen, Joan John, Avion Campbell

Orlando Bowen, Joan John of JunCtian Community Initiatives, BWDSB Human Rights and Equity Advisor Avion Campbell.

The forum also enabled a series of breakout sessions with students forming small groups for discussions on topics such as dealing with subtle racism and microaggressions, handling racial slurs, and others pertinent to their lived experiences. Students were asked to share their thinking and feedback with Orlando at the end of the day through a designated web link.

Board staff look forward to reviewing the information and student feedback gathered through this event to further inform and support school and system level efforts in the areas of equity and inclusion for Black students in BWDSB.


At South Grey News, we endeavour to bring you truthful and factual, up-to-date local community news in a quick and easy-to-digest format that’s free of political bias. We believe this service is more important today than ever before, as social media has given rise to misinformation, largely unchecked by big corporations who put profits ahead of their responsibilities.

South Grey News does not have the resources of a big corporation. We are a small, locally owned-and-operated organization. Research, analysis and physical attendance at public meetings and community events requires considerable effort. But contributions from readers and advertisers, however big or small, go a long way to helping us deliver positive, open and honest journalism for this community.

Please consider supporting South Grey News with a donation in lieu of a subscription fee and let us know that our efforts are appreciated. Thank you. subscribe tower ad Abbeyfield House - Durham Open House Grey County Libraries Powerful Machines
Grey Bruce Animal Shelter Bernard's quality cars ad click for inventory. Grey Highlands Library: Hiring CEO/Librarian Home-Based Childcare Provider Info Session Canadian Anti Fraud Centre ad Forests Ontario ad Crime Stoppers of Grey Bruce Your ad her $59/week Grey Bruce the women's centre MADD Canada Donate to Canadian Red Cross Barbara Pearn Artist