Wingspan Showcasing Event at Seaquam Secondary School, Delta (BC)

22 June 2024


Dear EDST Members:




At EDST’s Thursday, May 16, 2024 Department Meeting, our colleague, Prof. Leslie Roman, presented the VPRI-funded project she leads, Wingspan: Dis/ability Arts, Culture, & Public Pedagogy. Wingspan represents a school and community engagement project that is deployed in school communities across three Canadian provinces, namely British Columbia (BC), Manitoba, and Ontario (view a rough cut, here).[1] It brings together artists with disability as Artists-in-Residence within K-12 schools to “work alongside licensed teachers teaching about disability/Deaf inclusion, accessibility and pride”. The student-led arts projects explore “A/r/tographies for access by youth with disabilities”. The Wingspan project, which Prof. Roman presented at EDST’s Department Meeting, more specifically asks:


  • How may a Dis/Arts movement for accessibility led by youth with disabilities and with the mentorship of professional Dis/Artists and disability studies scholars open up new possibilities for social innovation in Canada, particularly with teacher education and educational leadership programs for administrators, schools, teachers, policy-makers in the arts, government, NGO’s and private sectors?
  • How may Dis/arts research uncover and shed light on the new barriers youth with disabilities in a globalized world?
  • What best practices exist for accessible Dis/Arts, performing & visual arts, curricular and digital media that could improve policies and legislation governing the lives of youth with disabilities?                                                   (Quoted from Wingspan’s Website)


On Friday, May 16, 2024, at the EDST Meeting, Prof. Roman had invited all members to attend Wingspan’s showcasing event scheduled for the afternoon of Friday, May 31st, 2024, comprising students arts works/performances. The event took place in the large auditorium of Seaquam Secondary School in Delta (BC), with students and teachers joining from Elsie Roy Elementary School in Vancouver (BC). Parents, teachers, school leaders and district administrators filled the auditorium. Artist Jugpreet Bajwa, who worked as Artist-in-Residence with students and teachers on their respective arts projects, facilitated the program. Jugpreet Bajwa holds a degree in Indian Classical Music and a Diploma in Western Classical Music. He faced the adversity of eye cancer and lost his sight (Refer to artist’s channel, here). Canada’s Minister of Sport and Physical Activity, Carla Qualtrough, delivered a supportive message on behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, followed by her message highlighting the significance of the Wingspan Project within the larger context of Canada’s inclusion policies and initiatives.


Invited, I attended the event at Seaquam, with two additional EDST Members. For me, this was an amazing and distinctive afternoon of exposure to arts/performance student-led projects. In the words of one attendee, the event represents a “highlight” for the schools and their communities. This sentiment was well reflected in the recognition Seaquam School Principal, Mark Robinson, expressed in his introductory note. The showcasing brought together students who worked with Artist Jugpreet Bajwa on a range of musical and performative sketches, including amazing band-based and choir-based performances; a rich range of student performance capabilities, indeed.


I remain inspired by what I witnessed: the student-led performances, their vivid testimonials, their shared experiences with Artist Jugpreet Bajwa, and the shifts in their engagement with disability in different spheres of learning. I am equally inspired by school leaders and educators’ words regarding Wingspan’s Artist-in-Residence contributions to school communities. The showcasing event illustrates and exemplifies modalities of scholars’ engagement with and for school communities, in practical, material and thoughtful ways, driven by a robust understanding of how a grounded and well-articulated public pedagogy can transform students and educators’ experiences of inclusion, equity and diversity. The idea underpinning Wingspan offers creative modalities of advocating and mobilizing scholarly work for marginalized and vulnerabilized school communities. I cannot avoid thinking: How can EDST build on such vibrant initiatives, collectively, in collaboration, or/and individually as part of its strategic renewal directions?


EDST members are encouraged to acquaint themselves with the Wingspan project. Its growing website, and recordings of past and forthcoming showcasing events, offer resources that can support teaching and learning and the designing of student activities.

Thank you for your attention, and with all best wishes, André


* Photo poster courtesy Leslie Roman & the Wingspan Project ©.

[1] © The Wingspan Project. The video cut link is part of a copyrighted film which will be made available to national and international broadcasters for distribution and airing as part of the project’s commitment to public education and public pedagogy.