I asked some questions of the two school trustee candidates in the upcoming by-election, and Mary Lalji answered them!
Question: New Westminster Secondary School is going to be rebuilt one way or another within the next decade. One of the challenges with the site is the Douglas Road Cemetery under the existing high school. When the current NWSS is bulldozed, this will undoubtedly anger the spirits and unleash them on New Westminster. My question for the candidates is this: name three people who will join you as Ghostbusters to save our city.
Answer: The highly trained ghostbusters themselves, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray of course!
Question: Concussions and other repeated head blows in football and rugby have been shown to be the cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (or CTE), leading to player suicides, memory loss, depression, and dementia. The NFL has been sued by ex-players because of this link. High school students are more likely to suffer concussions, and seven died in the US in 2015 from concussion-related injuries. What will you do to ensure the safety of NWSS students playing football, rugby, and other heavy contact sports?
Answer: First of all, there is no rugby program at NWSS, just football and lacrosse as far as contact sports are concerned. Fortunately, my husband Farhan has been on the front lines of the concussion issue for football both at NWSS and provincially and has implemented a number of initiatives to improve the care of the kids playing the sport. Provincially while he was president of the BC Secondary Schools football association, they implemented mandatory baseline testing for all players, adopted a medical policy which included re-return to play protocol, higher standards of medical qualifications for all sideline medical staff, and increased education and awareness for players, coaches and parents. Currently a newly formed safety committee is recommending contact limits during practices, designed to reduce the amount of head contact exposures over the course of a week and season. Locally at NWSS, the football program was the first in BC to purchase a new product called guardian caps, a padded helmet cap used in practice that reduces the force of contact by over 30%. Also, all of our coaches have been certified in the “Safe Contact” program through the Canadian Association of Coaches, teaching contact without using the head. In addition, while some programs have trainers present for only games, our program has qualified people on the sidelines for every practice, and they all take a very cautious approach with potential head injuries. Total number of concussions in 2015 was just 3, and more importantly, NO repeated concussions, which is where the CTE danger come into play.
There is no question that football, like all contact sports, has associated risks, but we are doing everything in our power at NWSS to put our kids in the safest possible position. And it’s also important to note the number of low risk activities that result in head injuries (eg. Cycling, playground, etc) as a recent Vancouver Province article outlines.
Question: Parents in the West End of New West are asking for some sort of solution for getting their children to Fraser River Middle School. This is a two part question: 1. How boring is the name “Fraser River Middle School” on a range of watching paint dry to school trustee by-election? 2. Do you support Queensborough parents of NWSS students in telling West End parents to fuck off?
Answer: 1. Port Coquitlam High School was renamed after Terry Fox, who gave of himself for all after him. Maybe this might be an option in New West for the Fraser River School. 2. You seem like a very brilliant writer. I am sure there are many other more descriptive words to use instead of profanity.
Question: What will you do to ensure parents continue to be punished for daring to have children who get sick?
Answer: As a parent whose kids get sick and that I always get sick from them, I think that is punishment enough.
Question: After NWSS, what do you feel are the priorities for capital projects in SD40?
Answer: There is a Capital plan. Every district must submit a capital needs list on a yearly basis. The ministry has the final say on which of the projects submitted get approved. The next school to be seismically upgraded is McBride and then Howay. Neither has been funded, as yet, by the provincial government.
However every parent should know how safe seismically their school is and you will ask the secretary treasurer to release the information to each school PAC.
Question: What restaurant would you like to see in the Anvil Centre?
Answer: Anything that is really tasty.
There you have it! Thanks to Mary Lalji for answering all of my questions. You can follow Mary on Twitter at @MaryLaljiNW or visit her website at marylalji.ca.