Wednesday 18 October 2023

Vigil to Support Families Turned Away from Coquitlam School District; Renew Call for a Sanctuary School Policy

See Media Coverage of the vigil here: 

Coquitlam, BC: On October 17th, 2023, members of the Tri-Cities Amnesty International group and the Sanctuary Health collective organized a candlelight vigil for the Right to Education outside the Coquitlam School Board’s next meeting. The vigil was to support families turned away from the Coquitlam School District like Priscila Hurtado’s family.

 The Tri-Cities Amnesty International group first reached out to the Coquitlam School Board about the need to establish a Sanctuary Schools policy in October 2019. They most recently presented to the Coquitlam School Board in May 2023 and are disappointed and frustrated that families are still facing the same experiences. 


  • New Westminster (SD40) adopted its Sanctuary Schools Policy on May 30 2017. The Central Okanagan School District (SD23) passed a Sanctuary Schools Policy on October 13 2022. Vancouver (SD39) in 2021 and Surrey (SD36) in 2023 changed their registration procedures so that children do not have to provide information about their citizenship/immigration status to register in schools. On September 25 2023, Greater Victoria School District (SD61) passed their Sanctuary Schools Policy
  •  On April 23 2022, the BC School Trustees Association (BCTSA) nearly unanimously passed a motion that the BCSTA develop a template to help Boards of Education remove barriers to registration for students with precarious or no immigration status in their Districts; and that the BCSTA calls on the BC Ministry of Education to remove barriers for students with precarious or no immigration status. 
  • On September 2 2022, the Deputy Minister of Education remitted directives to school districts that “When reporting students for operating grant funding, boards are not to exclude students of families who are B.C. residents and may have unresolved federal immigration status. Districts should not be putting up unnecessary barriers for undocumented families, particularly onerous requests for documentation that might prevent a family from enrolling their child.”