By Alynah Hyder Ali, Teacher Candidate in the Global Education Cohort
When Emily Wong (a former 2nd year teacher candidate) invited me to be on her podcast, Kaleidoscope EDU, I was thrilled, as it was going to be my first time creating a podcast. However, the excitement soon took a turn, down south, as anxiety prevailed. Since Emily’s podcast centres around sharing voices of women of colour (WOC), I felt nervous because spaces for people of colour are constantly questioned and/or attacked. Just recently, there had been an incident in Christchurch, New Zealand where a white supremist massacred at least 50 people at a Mosque during Friday prayer. After thinking through it, I realized that sharing our voices as one of the most marginalized groups in our society is crucial to the resistance of oppression. Having safe spaces and getting to know another WOC, Emily, helped in this process of empowerment.
As someone who entered the Canadian school system in Grade 7 in 2004, I faced many challenges, i.e. racism and islamophobia, especially in the first 2 years of my schooling in Toronto. However, due to relocation, I ended up in a different, more culturally diverse school for grades 9 and 10, and decided vigorously ‘assimilate’ to avoid any racial bullying incidents. As I recall, grades 9 and 10 were the best schooling years of my life in Canada and as I unpack this further, it’s because I had friends who were also people of colour. My family decided to move to Ottawa when I was in my last 2 years of Highschool. I ended up at a school where there were very few students of colour and no teachers of colour. All this is to say that throughout much of my schooling experience in Canada, I always felt like I didn’t belong.
As we see an influx of newcomers to Canada and the growingly diverse demographic of students, it is crucial to share voices of people of colour, especially in Education so that our students are able to see themselves in leadership positions and are able to build meaningful relationships with their teachers, which ultimately leads to better outcomes. More specifically, teachers should strive to construct pedagogical practices that have relevance and meaning to their students’ social and cultural realities. Here’s that buzz word that we so often hear in Education now: Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.
Furthermore, it is also important that, as aspiring educators, we challenge what it means to be Canadian as certain fallacies have permeated into our educational, political and social systems and are part of the unfortunate social structure created through generations of intentional and unintentional oppression of marginalized groups of people. Therefore, as educators we must be more cognizant of how our actions (through our lessons and creating a truly inclusive classroom community) can emancipate our students’ consciousness and instill love for all.
To listen to the podcast, click :