Rene Nand. DON RICKERS

“It’s been my dream to live here”

RENE NAND QUICK FACTS

Running for: English Public school board trustee, vs. incumbent Nancy Beamer, Linda Borland, Lisa Fucile

Age: 44

Occupation: Manager, Community and Cultural Engagement at the Region of Peel

Resides: Moved from Brampton to Thorold two years ago

Family: Married with two children

For someone who is a relatively recent transplant to Niagara, Rene Nand can’t contain her enthusiastic praise for the region.

“I absolutely love this area, and have been coming here for as long as I can remember,” she told the Voice. “I enjoy exploring the little towns, the waterfront areas, doing lots of hiking, and communing with nature. The food scene here in Niagara is also terrific, and I love the farm-to-table approach.”

Nand also think it’s an exciting time of change in Niagara.

“It’s one of the fastest growing municipalities in the province, and I really want to represent the influx of newcomers. Accessibility is a big issue for me, and I want to ensure that the public school board provides for all kids, including those who have special needs. I think I can be a real advocate for parents in the area.”

A Brampton native for 38 years, Nand moved to Thorold with her family two years ago. She is certified as a diversity, equity, and inclusion professional, with some 18 years of experience in progressive Crown corporation and municipal government roles. Nand is employed as the manager of community and cultural engagement for the Region of Peel, but works from home a portion of the week. Her educational credentials include programs in multicultural studies from Centennial College, and business and marketing from Sheridan College. Most recently, she graduated from the executive leadership program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

Her background has provided her with experience as to the inner workings of government and municipal matters, said Nand, which would be of benefit as a school board trustee. She stresses the need to support and grow infrastructure, ensuring that class sizes are kept relatively small, and that teachers receive the necessary educational resources.

Nand also has views on addressing the post-Covid classroom.

“I think we need to offer additional supports for sure, because a lot of kids fell through the cracks during Covid, and those are years you can’t get back. Whether it’s additional study groups or homework clubs, more support from teachers’ aides, academic tutors, or other resources, we need to provide them to get students back on track. Additional testing should also be considered to see exactly where they’re at in their learning journey, with the results made available to parents, along with recommendations. We can’t just continue along like the pandemic didn’t happen.”

I think we need to offer additional supports for sure, because a lot of kids fell through the cracks during Covid, and those are years you can’t get back

Although Nand supports safe school environments, she is not in favour of continued mask mandates, or school shutdowns.

“I think this is a hot-button issue for parents and families,” she said. “If you have an existing medical condition that requires you to wear the mask, you should have that opportunity. But I’m not in favour of a school board-wide policy of enforced masking for all.”

With regard to school programs in the arts and athletics, Nand is firmly onside.

“As one of my duties with the Region of Peel, I manage an art gallery, museum, and archives. So I’m a huge proponent of the arts, and would like to see funding put towards those programs as well as for sports. With the resources of Brock University nearby, we’ve got great opportunities to invest in our kids, through sports, drama, music, visual arts, and other creative pursuits.”

Living in Niagara is the fulfillment of a dream, says Nand.

“I’m just really passionate about this community, and think that I can demonstrate that commitment by representing parents and families as a school trustee. We need to especially get high school students back up to speed in preparation for college and university studies, after the problems created by Covid. Many of them floundered with the transition to online learning, and we need to prioritize their academic progress.”