It was in September 2011 when the first class of the Business and Social Action Program (BSAP) walked through the doors of Marc Garneau CI. Since then, a BSAP community has formed through yearly traditions, such as the organization of “Parents’ Night” or the camping trip to Etobicoke Outdoor Education Center.

Despite its gradual growth, the question remains: What is BSAP?

When asked, Mr. Sutherland, said, “BSAP was initially supposed to be two separate programs – business and social justice. However, it wasn’t until we started to do them together that we thought of the interesting connections between business and social justice – two things that most people think of as contradictions.” He added that the founders, Mr. Persaud and Mr. Mirza, wanted to create a program to specifically stress the importance of the integration of two wholly disparate concepts.

Mr. Haid, the first BSAP ACL, addressing his English class.  Photo: Cindy Cui

Mr. Haid, the first BSAP ACL, addressing his BSAP English class.
Photo: Cindy Cui

According to Mr. Sutherland, the vision of BSAP was two-fold – to create a collaborative program at the junction of business and social justice, and also to create long-term relationships between students and their teachers, mainly through a new specialized curriculum and enrichment activities.

This concept of combining business and social justice has been well-received by BSAP’s students.

“We have been taught about corporate social responsibility and have learned how to build a business while helping communities,” said Selina McCallum, a Grade 11 BSAP student.

The program is cultivating a group of leaders, who excel at the peak of business and social justice. Mr. Barrington, the Business teacher for the Grade 11 BSAP students for three consecutive years, has been crucial for the teaching of business skills. Under him, many BSAP students have successfully participated in the Junior Achievement Program.

BSAP has also thrived in achieving its first goal: to create a community. “The grade 11 BSAP class has been welcoming and informative. The members of the class act like members of a large family – while they are close and supportive, they can also be direct and argumentative,” said Mr. Haid, an English teacher and the first Assistant Curriculum Leader of BSAP.

Due to the collective progression of the BSAP students since Grade 9, they have now become accustomed to each others’ good qualities and bad, growing together as a group first and then as individuals.

Currently, the program is trying to raise awareness of its mission statement, especially amongst the students of BSAP’s “largest feeder school,” as Mr. Haid referred to Valley Park. By increasing knowledge of the program within Valley Park, BSAP is providing the students with the opportunity to select a program specifically created to meet their needs. BSAP has not only become vital for the present students of MGCI but also the newcomers.

The program, however, is still in its primary years. Mr. Haid stated, “I suppose that one of the most important distinctions between BSAP and other programs offered here at Garneau is that it is in its infancy. The future remains untested. Both the remainder of this year, and the entirety of next year, will be exciting as we enter into uncharted territory. Because no one has “lived,” or experienced the entire program, we all need to be part of its future.”

The BSAP teachers are certain of one thing, though—the program’s future is dependent on its students. Mr. Sutherland said, “The loudest voice for the future of BSAP is coming from the students themselves. They have a lot of ideas about the future and many of these ideas involve acting upon what they have learned.”

BSAP is a new initiative with a unique perspective, aiming to enable its students to succeed at the crossroads of business and social justice. Despite the dissimilar combination, it has so far been a success.