Sept 2021 Newsletter

If it feels good, it's not reconciliation ~ Pam Palmater
President's Address

To our members and supporters,

Welcome back to the 2021/22 school year. I know that this year is not what we expected or wanted, but I also know how excited all the students were to see you. Just like last year, and every year before, Teachers demonstrate what communities of care look like, by the compassion, organization, and passion you bring to classrooms. Again this year, you will be integral to holding up our school communities and bringing stability to the lives of students across BC. AOEC is here to support you in all your efforts, and encourage you to take the necessary steps to rest and take care.

As we roll into the 2021/22 school year, there is so much to process. From the extreme weather conditions of this past summer to Collective Bargaining, we know this year will bring forth many challenges. A community of support and care exists here at AOEC. We can take on these issues together, and foster school communities that are rooted in anti-oppressive values.

At AOEC we are excited to get going on continued advocacy against oppression, delving deep into pedagogy and committing ourselves to unlearning the colonial. This year our PSA Day conference is focused on Dismantling Borders, join us in a thoughtful discussion with Harsha Walia, and the opportunity to participate in an array of workshops on dismantling oppression in education.  We are excited about our conference and our future events. Please keep in touch and we look forward to sharing community with you!

In solidarity,

Shanee Prasad


SAVE THE DATE! Registration opens next week!! Follow us on social media for details! 
On August 31, 2021, AOEC President, Vice-President, Indigenous executive members and BCTF president Teri Mooring attended a long-awaited meeting with Minister of Education, Jennifer Whiteside. Others present included Deputy Minister Scott McDonald and several MOE staffers. AOEC presented our petition again, which has collected over 2000 signatures, and reiterated our calls to action calling on the Ministry of Education to mandate two days of in-service training for all K-12 school district staff in the 2021-2022 school year to carry out the following work:

1. Read the TRC and UNDRIP in their entirety-Read
2. Debrief in collective groups-Learn
3. Establish goals and action plans to implement all calls to action-Reckon

Throughout the meeting, AOEC executive members reiterated  that this is a necessary, low barrier  action that would be a critical next step for the public education system to move on the path towards reconciliation. AOEC reminded Minister Whiteside that December 2021 will mark the 6 year anniversary of the full publication of the TRC report and we have seen very incremental movement on the 94 calls to action. Indigenous staff in the BC’s public education system, and Indigenous children and their families continue to face rampant systemic racism. AOEC cited in the recent Special Advisors report that investigated Prince Rupert School District 57 and was initiated by Minister Whiteside herself. AOEC painted a clear and painful picture of the realities faced by Indigenous teachers and staff at every level of the school system. 
After a short 30 minute meeting, Minister Whiteside expressed her gratitude for our efforts and meeting with her and that she was aware that there was much work to be done in education.
However, she denied our requests for mandatory training.  AOEC expressed our deep disappointment in her decision-making and her lack of action

Each passing day that these calls to action are denied, is justice denied to Indigenous communities.  As the number of unmarked graves in former residential schools continues to rise into the thousands, we are also seeing that public attention is beginning to wane. AOEC’s calls to action have received widespread support and we know that settlers are open, willing, and ready to do the work with the support of the MOE. The Ministry of Education continues to be incapable of taking strong leadership in facing the truths of Turtle Island and in doing so is complicit in the ongoing genocide of Indigenous people. Although we are frustrated with this outcome, we do not believe it is the end, and it only serves to strengthen our resolve that these are necessary actions required. We will honour the lives of countless children who were stolen, murdered, and experienced violence in the residential school system, and the survivors, by not remaining silent and pushing forward. Please stay tuned to find out how you can help!
Book Review:
BORDER & RULE by Harsha Walia
Harsha Walia’s Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism and the Rise of Racist Nationalism is a comprehensive systematic analysis of migration “crises” brought about by capitalism, imperialism and climate change. Walia begins by examining the violent formation of the US- Mexico border through interrelated logics of white supremacy, namely genocide and slavery. Walia not only examines how Indigenous genocide and land dispossession shape contemporary borders, but also draws clear linkages between past bordering practices, rooted in anti-Black spatial control, and present-day immigration policies and practices.

Chapter One lays the groundwork for understanding borders as “an ordering regime, both assembling and assembled through racial-capitalist accumulation and colonial relations” (p.2).  The remaining chapters of Part One of 
Border and Rule explore how US domestic and foreign policy, based on principles of neoliberalism, expand the prison-and military-industrial complexes and render migration inevitable. Part One provides educators with a wealth of historical and political context for current migrant and refugee “crises” and also invites us to reflect on the ways we police othered bodies in our schools and communities. After reviewing how migrants are displaced by inherently unequal trade agreements and climate change in the Global South, Part Two turns to a study of the mechanisms of exclusion and criminalization utilized by the Global North to restrict migration. The border governance strategies Walia outlines in Chapter Four are particularly useful for understanding how border enforcement extends far beyond a state’s physical border and “mutates the working class-nurses, teachers, social workers- into border guards” (p.84). In Part Three of Border and Rule, Walia finally delves into one of the main functions of restrictive bordering regimes: cheap and expendable labour. Migrant workers, often with no path to citizenship through programs such as Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers program, provide “liberal capitalist interests with cheapened labour without altering the racial social order through permanent immigration” (p.133). This section forces middle-class Canadian readers to confront their own complicity with regards to the exploitation of migrant labour. It also provides teachers with a concise critique of Canadian multiculturalism which may help some to move away from superficial cultural celebrations and embrace more critical and antiracist pedagogies.

Walia’s breadth of knowledge and astoundingly nuanced structural analysis makes Border and Rule an absolute pleasure to read.  After experiencing decades of neoliberal assaults on public education and surviving a pandemic year that has brought into sharp focus the crises of climate change and systemic racism, Border and Rule is a necessary read for BC teachers and labour activists invested in a more humane future for all people. 
By Amrit Sanghe
Here is one of AOEC's favourite classroom resources for Truth & Reconciliation. A child and youth-friendly guide from the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada. Check it out here!
This year, AOEC had the honour to collaborate and contribute to the development of the Challenging Racist BC curriculum. Executive members reviewed this rich resource and provided key questions to help guide teachers and students to reflect and delve into the difficult conversations about BC's complicity in its racist laws, policies, and the legacy that lives on today.

This year marks 150 years (1871-2021) since BC joined Canada. This anniversary arrives at a critical moment: Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and other Indigenous peoples are challenging dispossession and environmental racism; the Black Lives Matter movement is demanding foundational change; Japanese Canadians are seeking BC restitution for the attempted ethnic cleansing of the province; and the fight against racisms associated with COVID-19 is broadening in response to systemic racism. 150 Years and Counting (150YC) is a new open-access, multi-media resource that documents how this recent cycle of anti-racist activism is part of a broader history of Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities challenging white supremacy for over 150 years – particularly since 1871 when BC joined Canada. Co-authored by activists & scholars from diverse communities, this resource, which includes an 80-page illustrated booklet, an Enhanced Digital Edition, a 'Teachers' Corner' webpage, and a 3-part video series, will assist anti-racist educators, teachers, scholars, and policymakers in piercing the silences that too often have let racism fester in communities, corporations, and governments. All of these resources and more can be found on our website 
**Correction** The AOEC June 2021 newsletter article titled "Palestine:
A Not-So-Short HIstory of Dispossession and Settler Colonialism" did not credit Jayce Salloum. We apologize for this error.
Copyright © 2021 Anti-Oppression Educators Collective, All rights reserved.

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