Former William Aberhart high school students call for curriculum change
CALGARY -- Sixteen years after graduating from William Aberhart High, three former students have decided the time is ripe for meaningful change.
Citing the broad cultural shift towards acceptance and equality inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests, three Calgary friends are calling for change in classrooms as well.
Nicole Dodd, Cinde Adegbesan, and Pam Tzeng have initiated an online campaign calling on the Minister of Education to alter the curriculum and address racism in schools across Alberta.
“As three racialized Albertans who have done all of our K-12 education in Alberta, we felt there was a gap in the education system in terms of reflecting racialized voices,” said Dodd. “Students need to learn about difference, appreciate difference, and accept difference,” she added.
The group has once again joined together to create a website filled with resources oriented around anti-racist education for both teachers and students. The page also features a link establishing a direct e-mail to Adriana LaGrange, Alberta’s Minister of Education.
“We need to be equipping students and teachers to actually have tangible skills to deal with racism that has existed since Canada was born,” said Tzeng, who became friends with Dodd in high school.
“Identifying difference, valuing difference, and how do we systemically address that? When we get there, we’ll really have a beautiful future,” added Tzeng.
Becoming friends in the early 2000s as they negotiated the challenges of being visible minorities in an Alberta high school, the group say schools, and society in general, haven’t enacted much reform.
“We have realized that very little has changed since our time in high school,” explained Adegbesan. “There’s only a couple pages of textbook material on black history, and most of that is black American history,” she added.
“There is a need to talk about the history of black people in Canada, there were black communities throughout the country, we need to learn and talk about that.”
The group encourages any member of the public concerned with the Alberta school curriculum to visit their site.