We are thankful to all who participated in our Community Healing Forum held on November 19, 2016 on our Hiawatha Collegiate High School (HCHS) campus. The event provided community members with an opportunity to enjoy art, music, community speakers from several sectors, as well as access to legal resource agencies.

The past few months have been incredibly painful for so many of our families. Our children have been exposed to hateful and harmful speech. Speech and actions that separate us from one another. Speech and actions that diminish our ability to be fully human.

In response to so many acts of violence in the community and other recent events, Hiawatha Academies organized this Community Healing Forum for our families, staff and greater community.

Hiawatha Academies’ equity vision states that “To honor the humanity of all people, we actively disrupt systemic inequity in pursuit of an equitable world.” At a time of great uncertainty, when so many in our communities are managing so many difficult emotions and experiences, it was an honor to stand with staff, families and community members united against racism, bigotry and hatred.

The forum included a panel of community leaders that talked about the experiences in their cultural communities, how their community is coming together to address violence and how others can support their communities as they try to work towards building a positive and loving space for everyone.

Representative Carlos Mariani presented messages of love and hope, and was followed by a space of music, food, and connecting.

The morning ended with an informational session from Susana de Leon, attorney at De Leon and Nestor and executive director John Keller from the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

At Hiawatha Academies, we value the great diversity of our student body and surrounding communities. We believe in the power of multiculturalism as a tool to achieve social justice and that racial and cultural divides have no place at our schools just as they have no place in our communities. With these values at the core of our work, we teach with the intent to bridge the gaps between us because we need each other and because we are stronger together.

In the words of a parent who attended the event, “this is exactly what I needed in order to feel a sense of place and learn more about what could happen to my family. We simply cannot sit back and do nothing. Our community cannot live in fear.”