Source: Facebook

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario released a new teaching resource called “Race Matters – Teaching Students to be Race-Conscious” for K-6 teachers. 

Complete with lesson plans and a glossary, the program aims to “examine race, racism, and anti-Black racism within the Canadian context” in the classroom.  

A copy of Race Matters was sent to True North by a concerned teacher and whistleblower, who wished to remain anonymous for fear that they would lose their job if identified. 

According to the authors of Race Matters, “Anti-Black racism remains deeply entrenched within Canadian institutions…. In Ontario’s publicly funded education system, this discrimination has not only persisted but has been further exposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the George Floyd uprising.”

Some of the program’s goals for students in kindergarten up to grade three are to “identify race and ethnicity as they pertain to identity and to examine instances of anti-Black racism in Canada.” 

By the end of the module children as young as five years old will not only know how to finger paint, but they will also be able to identify the different types of racism and “explore the role of allyship in creating change.” 

According to the Race Matters glossary, allyship is the act of being an ally, which is a member of one social identity group who stands up in support of members of another group. The term ally is usually a member of a dominant group.

Some of the guiding questions for teachers to ask themselves while teaching the module are what their own biases and assumptions may be regarding race. 

“This is straight up woke racism being taught in schools. The public needs to know and pressure needs to be put on the Ontario government not to allow documents like this produced by the unions to be used in schools,” wrote the anonymous teacher in their email to True North.

Due to the uncomfortable nature of the subject matter for grades 4-6, certain module goals will require teachers to “acknowledge the discomfort” and “reflect on whether the discomfort is rooted in a lack of knowledge, guilt, fear, self- judgment, or something else.”

Once these feelings have been properly acknowledged, teachers are to affirm that they are “willing to learn more, grow as a teacher and person, and show up for your students, colleagues, parents, and community members.”

Upon reflection and completion of the module, teachers and students alike, will be able to “understand the meanings of “Black diaspora,” “anti-Black racism,” “colonialism,” “privilege,” “Black excellence,” and “Black joy.” 

For example, Black Joy is a term used to “highlight acts, experiences, and expressions of joy in the lives of Black people, often in opposition to the trauma, tragedy, and struggles perpetuated by anti-Black racism,” reads the glossary.

One of the aspects of Canadian misinformation that Race Matters would like to highlight is Canadians’ misunderstanding that slavery only occurred in the United States. 

While Canadians continue to bask in the “mythology of the Underground Railroad and our destination as a haven for those who were enslaved,” the authors argue that Canada was just as bad.

This is because “enslavement of Indigenous and Black people was common in New France and British North America throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, and slavery was not abolished in Canada until 1834,” meaning Canada managed to abolish slavery some 33 years before it actually became a country. 

However, “the history of anti-Black racism in this country is equally rooted in the history and legacy of the transatlantic slave trade as it is in America.” 

Race Matters also offers guidance for how teachers can create spaces for students to feel safe within the classroom, suggesting one way to do so is to “name racism and those who are responsible for perpetuating it. We must learn to ask, “How have white Canadians enacted and benefited from racism?” 

Despite the historical misconception that racism can be defined by acts of individuals, Race Matters teaches students that it is more “insidious, marked by microaggressions – everyday, subtle actions towards racialized groups that have lasting impacts on the way people interact within society.”

In teaching students to be race-conscious the guide was “created to meet the need for curriculum that addresses anti-Black racism.”