Elizabeth “Bunny” Shannon was the reason Janice Caton became a school trustee.
At November’s board of education, Caton took the opportunity to honour the memory of Shannon, who passed away recently, saying Shannon, who served on the board for 19 years, was the one who talked her into running.
“Bunny was my mentor and Bunny is the reason I’m sitting on the board of education,” she said.
Caton credited Shannon for her advocacy of public education and, prior to joining the board, was an active parent, including a role as one of the founders of the district parent advisory council (DPAC). She also served on the board of directors for the BC School Trustees Association.
Shannon also was “a champion of the underdog,” and believed in the rights of every student, Caton said. This included protecting rights for LGBTQ2S+ students. She helped develop board policies on issues such as social justice, mental health and SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity).
“She was instrumental in our district becoming one of the first districts in the province to have a SOGI policy,” Caton said.
Her advocacy went beyond education as well, as Caton pointed out how Shannon was involved in our organizations such as LUSH Valley Food Action Society, for which she served as board president for many years.
Caton said students, staff and the school district were all better because of Shannon’s involvement, in addition to mentoring new trustees through the BCSTA’s education committee as chair.
“She’s going to be missed,” she said. “We are better for her. We have many programs in place because of her.”
Caton added she will bring something forward in the future for the board to formally acknowledge Shannon’s work for the district.
Fellow trustee Sheila McDonnell also spoke about the role Shannon had played for the board for many years as well as the importance of her community work through groups like Comox Valley Social Planning Society for which Shannon had served as president. McDonnell also noted that MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard spoke in the B.C. Legislature in recognition of Shannon and her work.
“It was a very moving speech,” she said.