Rhiannon Bennett, Andrea Hilder, and Mita Naidu: the Delta school board needs Delta Voices

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      By Rhiannon Bennett, Andrea Hilder, and Mita Naidu

      Delta Voices is a revolutionary team of dynamic women running for school board in Delta. Incumbent Delta school board trustee Rhiannon Bennett, who is joined by newcomers Andrea Hilder and Mita Naidu, anchors the unofficial slate. All three are parents of children between the ages of 2 and 16.

      In 2014, Rhiannon Bennett made history by being the first Indigenous person to be elected to the Delta Board of Education. Building on that success, Mita Naidu is poised to become the first South Asian woman to be elected to the Delta school board.

      Rhiannon Bennett is Musqueam and was raised in Ladner; she now raises her daughter with her partner on Tsawwassen Lands. She has worked and volunteered with children and families for over two decades. As trustee, Bennett focused on repairing and building stronger relationships with education partners. Bennett was appointed to the B.C. School Trustees Association’s Indigenous Education Committee and was named cochair.

      She has also been an active member of Delta’s Equity Scan Committee. The committee is a provincial pilot project to explore and address inequity in the treatment of Indigenous students. Bennett is a much-sought-after speaker and is well known for asking tough questions in a manner that encourages engagement and dialogue. She passionately works to create a more equitable word for all people.

      Bennett wanted a different team to work with this election. She approached Andrea Hilder and Mita Naidu with hopes of creating something new and powerful for Delta. Together, this team of strong women brings advocacy and a wider breadth of voices to the table.

      Andrea Hilder is a mother, education professional, and small-business owner with deep roots in Delta. She has been an education assistant (EA) for almost 10 years in Delta and Richmond. Hilder has worked with children and youth for almost 20 years, as a foster parent, a family-support worker, EA, and child advocate. She has almost completed her provincial instructor diploma and facilitates workshops on reconciliation with First People and hopes to teach in an EA program.

      Hilder is a non-Indigenous parent of an Indigenous child who attends a Delta secondary school. She has worked in Delta’s classrooms and knows what works and what Delta needs to cultivate and grow. Hilder brings a unique perspective to Delta’s school board, representing underserved populations—specifically, students with special needs and students of Indigenous ancestry and their families.

      Mita Naidu is the director of development and communications at a nonprofit in the Downtown Eastside. Her passions have always been deeply entangled in the arts, sports, notions of voice, diversity, and anti oppression work. Now focused on advocacy, leadership, and community engagement, Naidu sits on several prominent boards, including the Vancouver International Jazz Festival board and the Vancouver International Children’s Festival.

      Born in Kolkata, India, she grew up in Canada. Naidu has two children, one in a Delta elementary school and one in a high-level training program abroad. Representation matters to Naidu, and she wants to ensure that all communities have a voice at the board table.

      Inadequate funding and ineffective policy have impeded Bennett, Hilder, and Naidu’s frontline work. They have had no choice but to become the funding allocators and policy makers.

      Delta Voices has a bold but simple plan. Through their philosophy of ARTS—advocacy, relationships, transparency, and support—they want to improve playgrounds and tracks, connect families, students, and educators, and put equity into practice.

      All three candidates have extensive experience with advocacy. Recognizing that Delta has a diverse student population with diverse needs is an important acknowledgement and first step to advocating for students, staff, and families. Building on Bennett’s success as a trustee, Delta Voices plans to build better, stronger relationships with the community.

      Transparency is key to Delta Voices; they will encourage greater accountability from trustees as well as broader public awareness and input. Support is vital, from classrooms to the board office to the maintenance yard. All three candidates want to see an increase in support for all students and staff.

      Not afraid of hard work, Delta Voices are active, professional moms who have a range of diverse skills that will add to the governance and vision of all Delta Schools.