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Calgary rally targets ‘institutionalized and structural racism’ in schools

Click to play video: 'Calgary rally targets ‘institutionalized and structural racism’ in schools' Calgary rally targets ‘institutionalized and structural racism’ in schools
A march held in Calgary to mark Juneteeth hopes to bring change and an end to systematic racism in Calgary schools. Lauren Pullen reports. – Jun 19, 2020

More than 100 people marched through Calgary toward the Calgary Board of Education building on Friday, protesting “institutional and structural racism.”

“African history, Indigenous history is not very well included in the curriculum that we hold,” Firatol Shune with the United Black People’s Allyship Movement said.

READ MORE: Calgary city council unanimously passes anti-racism motion

“Sometimes you’ve got teachers that teach, but there’s proper history that needs to be integrated in the school system so people are more conscious and aware about what has occurred,” Shune said.

A protester speaks into a megaphone at a Calgary anti-racism rally. Global News

Shune said the group is putting together a letter requesting a meeting with the minister of education to try to further get their message across about curriculum reform.

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Shuana Porter, the founder and CEO of the movement, said the group will be holding rallies across the city, targeting agencies from public health to social services, to protest “anti-oppressors.”

Porter said the movement is not affiliated with the agency Black Lives Matter, but said they do use the slogan, which is “used by Black people across the world to show they all face the same issue.”

READ MORE: Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld discusses racism, use of force and defunding police

She added that the goal of their organization isn’t the destruction of agencies — like the police and school boards — but to have Black voices not only heard, but seen as integral to the way those agencies operate.

A Calgary police officer gives a low-five to a young girl at an anti-racism rally in Calgary. Global News

In an emailed statement to Global News, the CBE said it has a “responsibility to support our students and families as we learn to confront racism and disrupt old patterns of thought and behaviour.”

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“Working towards equality and a society free of prejudice and racism is work we must engage in together,” chief superintendent Christopher Usih said.

“The CBE believes it is critical that we listen to the concerns of our community, our students and our staff,” he added.

“Earlier this week, I reached out to the organizers to hear their thoughts and concerns. I look forward to meeting with them again in the near future.”

READ MORE: Students lead charge to have more Black history taught in Canadian schools to fight racism

While Friday’s protesters rallied outside the CBE for changes to the curriculum, what’s taught in Alberta’s public school classrooms is determined by Alberta Education.

In an emailed statement, education ministry press secretary Colin Aitchison said “Alberta’s current Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum addresses issues regarding race and racism by teaching students to value diversity, respect dignity, support human equality, while understanding history, culture, roles and responsibilities.”

“Alberta’s future K-12 curriculum will continue to address concepts, topics and issues related to anti-racism, particularly in social studies and wellness education,” Aitchison said.

“Concepts, topics and issues related to anti-racism, diversity and pluralism may also be addressed in other subject areas such as English Language Arts.”

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