For a Mandatory Race and Ethnicity Course in British Columbia High Schools
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Action Plan Statement
Goal: To have a mandatory open level Race and Ethnicity course in British Columbia high schools.
We are asking the Minister of Education for British Columbia, Rob Fleming, to reform the education system with the outlines in this petition, as well as with additional invited input from local indigenous knowledge keepers. This petition outlines a mandatory course that aims to establish the first step in reforming the current Eurocentric teachings of “Social Studies”, history, and other subjects that neglect to focus on important systemic issues and our collective role in them from an early age.
Problem: Our current primary and secondary education programs do not do enough to address the existence of racism in Canada in its past and present. Without educating students on the full extent of the history of racism and cultural assimilation in the past, we are perpetuating a continual cycle of colonialism and racism today. The exclusion of marginalized groups' history and experience in our curriculum permits further discrimination against these groups. It is important to showcase the realities of these systemic issues and teach students how to identify discriminatory actions with regards to the issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class, etc. in order to educate students on the makings of society, the ways in which these systems operate and how students themselves are able to contribute to a more just society.
We are not educated about the full extent of slavery and Indigenous genocide that happened in the past, and their lasting effects on racialized, Indigenous, and immigrant populations. What are the lasting mindsets of colonialism that exist today? What does racism and oppression look like in Canada today in terms of issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class, etc.? How are the communities dealing with it? How can we progress and learn? What is our collective responsibility in establishing anti-racist institutions?
Intention of the course: To provide students with better knowledge and understanding of how race and ethnicity looks in today’s society. How minorities are;
- portrayed in the media
- recipients of healthcare
- treated by the education system (By peers, teachers, staff and the education system in general)
- treated at the workplace including hiring practices
- dealt with by the justice system
Additional topics to cover:
The Eurocentric beauty standard
Racialization of poverty
Racism and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples
White privilege and white fragility
and many more topics in oppression of the everyday life of communities in Canada. A more in-depth list is available at the end of this petition. If you think I missed an important topic feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org (British Columbia Highschools) or my petition partner Isabella Thurston at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org (Ontario Highschools) or email@example.com (Nova Scotia Highschools)
Course Description: The first component of this course will explore the theories and foundations of racism in order to encourage students to engage in critical thinking through an interdisciplinary lens. The second component will analyze systemic structures that are upheld within Canadian society such as the criminal justice system, education systems, public health systems, and other areas of neocolonial governance. The third component will present students with strategies of political resistance from thinkers of the Global South, and how to increase the representation of marginalized people within society.
David Este, Liza Lorenzetti, and Christa Sato (eds.). 2018. Racism and Anti-Racism in Canada. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.
Book/Article Suggestions from Black and Indigenous Theorists:
The Skin We’re In - Desmond Cole (Book)
The Inconvenient Indian - Thomas King (Book)
Intersectionality - Kimberlé Crenshaw (Article)
The New Jim Crow - Michelle Alexander (Book)
Decolonization is not a Metaphor - Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang (Article)
Policing Black Lives - Robyn Maynard (Book)
How to Be an Antiracist - Ibram X. Kendi (Book)
Freedom is a Constant Struggle - Angela Davis (Collection of essays, speeches and interviews)
Why in high school: There have been many petitions for an Anti-Oppression course to be a requirement at various post-secondary institutions however, the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education is not accessible to everyone and anti-racism education is best effective at earlier ages. Implementing this course within high schools would be beneficial for the growth and development of students. The concepts taught are applicable in everyday life and it teaches students how to be mindful of the impact of their actions. This course will allow students to know how to analyze entrenched discriminatory practices within our institutions, develop an interdisciplinary lens, and create safer spaces within educational institutions and within the community. Education is the first step in creating social change, and a race and ethnicity course would be beneficial to all parties through this highly applicable and important course.
Why I think this is important: I’ve attended educational institutions in Kelowna, B.C for all my secondary schooling. Living in a country as diverse and as young as Canada, I believe there should be reasonable expectations for educational institutions to inform students on issues of colonialism and race as it pertains to a wide audience. There needs to be increased BIPOC representation within the education system. This would foster a safer space for students in communicating their experiences, being validated and heard, and ultimately lay the foundation for the next generation to become one more mindful of systemic issues of race and better able to contribute to dismantling them.
Taking similar courses to this in university provided me with knowledge and perspectives that greatly expanded my classmates and I’s understanding of the BIPOC experience in Canada and the context of it. By starting this petition I hope to demonstrate the importance stressed by communities across the country in reforming their education systems. With the original Ontario petition (linked below) and Nova Scotia petition (linked below) gaining growing support from across the country, we view this reformation in our education systems as an important step in having students be more aware of how colonialism is being perpetuated, and how this affects many racialized people within their communities and around the world.
Comprehensive topics to include in the course:
How BIPOC are treated in schools (adultification)
Racism mislabelled as “bullying” and not addressed properly
School to prison pipeline
Promoting “Diversity” and “Multiculturalism” does not address unique racialized experiences within society
How racial stereotypes influence teachers/staff in grading, dropout and explosion rates
Quality of Healthcare dependant on Race
Racialization of Poverty
Environmental racism (Africville, access to clean drinking water)
Infant mortality rates
White Supremacy and Eurocentric Ideologies
Eurocentric Beauty standards
Media representation (Stereotypes)
White feminism (intersectionality)
Criminal justice system (war on drugs, over-policing, police brutality, the 13th amendment)
Street checks, racial profiling and brutality from law enforcement
Indigenous land rights (Wet’suwet’en, Haida Nation v. British Columbia, addressing schools’ locations on traditional lands and local indigenous-settler history. etc.)
Missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Residential schools history and their survivors (intergenerational trauma)
Slavery, chattel slavery
This action plan has been templated and edited from the original petition by Parnika Raj to make a Race and Ethnicity Course Mandatory in Ontario High-schools. I contacted Parnika and explained to her that I wanted to start a similar petition here in British Columbia, and worked with her and Amy Clarke of the Nova Scotia petition to make this possible.
For the original Ontario petition started by Parnika Raj: https://www.change.org/p/ontario-ministry-of-education-to-have-a-race-and-ethnicity-course-mandatory-in-highschool?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=custom_url&recruited_by_id=196ee120-b192-11ea-9a51-35a009f583d3
For the Nova Scotia petition started by Amy Clarke:
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