To make a Race and Ethnicity Course Mandatory in Highschool

To make a Race and Ethnicity Course Mandatory in Highschool

June 18, 2020
Petition to
Signatures: 66,693Next Goal: 75,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by Parnika Raj

Action Plan Statement

Goal: To have a mandatory open level Race and Ethnicity course in highschool. 

We are asking the Minister of Education of Ontario, Stephen Lecce committed to “fighting for student success and is working to build an education system that is equipped to support our next generation...Stephen stands for an inclusive and equitable system of education and believes that our future as a province and as a country, depends on unlocking the potential of all youth” to reform the education system. 

Implementing this course is the first step in reforming the current Eurocentric teachings of “Social Studies”, history, and other subjects that neglect to focus on the important systemic issues from an early age.

Problem: Our current primary and secondary education programs do not address the existence of racism in Canada in the past and in the 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 today. Marginalized groups are then excluded from our teachings and further discriminated against. 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 and the ways in which these systems operate. 

We are not educated about the full extent of slavery and Indigenous genocide that happened in the past, and the lasting effects of that today 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, right now in terms of issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class, etc.? How are the communities dealing with it? How can we progress and learn?

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 areas of focus of oppression of the everyday life of communities in Canada. A more in-depth list of topics to cover is available at the end of this petition. If you think I missed an important topic feel free to contact me


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 colonization. The third component will present the students with strategies of political resistance from thinkers of the Global South and how to increase the representation of marginalized people within society.

Required Texts:

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 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)

Why in high school:  There have been many petitions for an Anti-Oppression course to be a requirement at a post-secondary institution however,  the opportunity to gain post-secondary education is not accessible to everyone. 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 race and ethnicity course will be beneficial to all parties through this highly applicable and important course 

Why I think this is important: I’ve attended educational institutions in Ottawa for both elementary and secondary school.  Living in the most multicultural province in Canada, I believe there should be reasonable expectations and a priority for educational institutions to inform students on issues of colonialism and race as it pertains to a wide audience.  There needs to be an increased representation of BIPOC’s within the education system. This would foster a safer space for students in communicating their experiences, being validated, and heard. 

Taking this type of course in university provided me with much validation and understanding of my experiences and the experiences of those around me. By starting this petition I hope to demonstrate the importance stressed by the Ottawa community in reforming the Ontario education system. Collectively, we view the importance of having students be made aware of how colonialism is being perpetuated and how this affects many racialized people within the community and also around the world. 

Comprehensive topics to include in the course:

Education System

  • How BIPOC are treated in schools (adultification)
    Racism mislabelled as “bullying” and not addressed properly
    School to prison pipeline
    Promoting “Diversity” and “Multiculturism” does not address each Race and how they are treated differently in society
    How racial stereotypes influence teachers/staff in grading, dropout and explosion rates

Public Health

  • Quality of Healthcare dependant on Race
    Racialization of Poverty 
    Environmental racism
    Infant mortality rates

White Supremacy and Eurocentric Ideologies 

  • Eurocentric Beauty standards -> Stereotypes
    Media representation
    Internalized racism
    White privilege/fragility/guilt
    White feminism -> intersectionality

Institutionalized Racism

  • Criminal justice system (war on drugs, over-policing, police brutality, the 13th amendment)
    Prison abolition
    Carding and racial profiling done by Police Officers


  • Indigenous land rights
    Missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
    Starlight Tours
    Sixties Scoop
    Proper Residential schools history, the last school closed in 1996 which is shocking
    Slavery, chattel slavery
Support now
Signatures: 66,693Next Goal: 75,000
Support now