Talking About Racism in the Classroom

Webinar: Taking Action To Address Anti-Black Racism in Canadian Schools

On March 31, 2021 the Global Centre for Pluralism and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO hosted a discussion on the implications of our recently released policy brief (see below). This discussion focused on implementing the recommendations from the policy brief. The panel discussed some of the challenges and priorities for the education sector and provided examples of initiatives addressing anti-Black racism in Canadian schools.

Policy Recommendations for Addressing Anti-Black Racism in Canadian Schools

On February 24, 2021, the Centre published the policy brief “From Reflection to Action: Addressing Anti-Black Racism in Canadian Schools” in collaboration with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO), anti-racism and inclusion facilitator, Destine Lord, and civic engagement consultant, Elsa Mondésir Villefort.

This policy brief is a follow-up to our professional development sessions, “Talking about Racism in the Classroom”, presented in the summer of 2020 (see webinar link below). The brief summarizes the findings from these sessions and makes recommendations to Ministries and Faculties of Education, based on participant feedback, on how to better equip teachers to have these important discussions.

Resources for Educators on Anti-Black Racism

In these challenging times, high school students may have many questions about race and racial injustice in Canada and the US, and as teachers, students may turn to you for context and perspective. What will you say and how can you support them? Perhaps you have the same questions? Where do you start?

Throughout the summer of 2020, the Global Centre for Pluralism, in partnership with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, offered two-hour virtual professional development sessions for Canadian high school teachers on how to have conversations about racism in the classroom. Facilitated by inclusion and anti-racism consultant, Destine Lord, in English and civic engagement consultant, Elsa Mondésir Villefort, in French, these dialogue-based small group sessions provided educators with the key definitions and racial concepts necessary to get these conversations started.

“I’m a high school English teacher and the texts we read involve many topics that can prompt uncomfortable conversations. This discomfort can be tough as the teacher but it opens incredible opportunities for learning, understanding and acceptance. I feel the framework and strategies Destine shared this afternoon will help in continuing to build my confidence in these conversations – about racism, and also about many other topics.”

Ottawa teacher

Over the course of two months, and at no cost, the Global Centre for Pluralism’s Education Program offered 32 small group sessions in English and 6 small group sessions in French, with no more than 15 participants per session. On August 28th, 2021, due to overwhelming demand, and in order to accommodate all of the teachers on our waitlist, we also hosted a live webinar which was facilitated by Destine. Over 500 teachers from across Canada registered for the sessions.

Together, participants discussed how to create brave spaces, which invite student engagement. Participants walked away with techniques that help them listen with intent, validate emotion, model empathy and challenge students to question their own bias and assumptions. Leaning into discomfort, with openness and humility, is one of the most important things that a teacher can model for their students. The goal of these sessions was not to make participants experts in race relations but to provide the tools to facilitate challenging conversations that hold space for emotions.

Click on the links below for resources based on Destine’s presentation. We will be continuously updating the list of resources.

The webinar from August 28th 2021 is no longer publicly available. Please reach out to [email protected] with any questions.

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