Indigenous scholar despatched house with ‘offensive’ worksheet, prompting audit at Niagara faculty

Indigenous scholar despatched house with ‘offensive’ worksheet, prompting audit at Niagara faculty

Warning: This story incorporates the picture in query.

A Niagara-area faculty is auditing the supplies of a instructor who’s dealing with undisclosed “disciplinary motion” after a scholar was despatched house with a worksheet depicting two cartoon characters in stereotypical Indigenous clothes, together with feathered headbands. 

Tracee Smith, who lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., was shocked when her four-year-old son Ekkian Christmas got here house from junior kindergarten with the worksheet entitled “Two little Indians are consuming ice cream.” It requested college students to “color the scoops which have an ‘I’ or ‘i’ on it.” 

“I could not imagine that I used to be studying it. I went from being shocked, to upset, to essentially disenchanted, all in a short time,” mentioned Smith, a member of the Missanabie Cree First Nation in northern Ontario.

She mentioned different kids within the class additionally got the worksheet.

A slightly crumpled worksheet that has been filled out by a small child, with a line of text that reads "Two little Indians are eating ice cream. Colour the scoops that have uppercase I or lowercase i". At the bottom of the page there are two cartoons dressed in stereotypical Indigenous outfits from the past.
The worksheet, meant to show kids the distinction between capital I and lowercase i, encompasses a drawing of two characters in stereotypical Indigenous outfits. (Submitted by Tracee Smith)

Smith’s son began at St. Davids Public Faculty three weeks in the past. She mentioned he was unaware, due to his age, that the worksheet was offensive, however his older sister, who’s in Grade 1, understood it was. 

“We nonetheless have academics utilizing this materials and never realizing how hurtful it may be,” Smith mentioned.

“You will hear the time period ‘Indian’ utilized in very racist, hurtful methods from largely non-Indigenous folks, from the previous.” 

St. Davids Public Faculty principal Carl Glauser despatched an e-mail to folks after Smith made the college and the District Faculty Board of Niagara (DSBN) conscious of the worksheet.

“We’re sincerely sorry to the scholars, households and full faculty group that this offensive materials was distributed,” Glauser mentioned within the e-mail. 

‘You’d assume we might have gotten previous this’

Smith mentioned the worksheet hit near house, not simply because she and her husband are Indigenous, however as a result of Smith additionally works in Indigenous schooling. 

She is the founder and chief govt officer of Exterior Trying In, an academic program that brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous college students collectively to study one another, and provides highschool credit to Indigenous college students by their dance program. 

“I work with curriculum, and academics and principals on a regular basis,” Smith mentioned. 

“Twenty-five children that I do know of received that worksheet. You’d simply assume that we might have gotten previous this already.” 

Georgie Groat, the Indigenous schooling lead for the DSBN, works with a workforce of seven scholar achievement leaders for Indigenous schooling. 

A woman sits in front of a white wall.
Georgie Groat, Indigenous schooling lead for the District Faculty Board of Niagara (DSBN), says the worksheet reveals how a lot work must be accomplished in ‘unlearning’ biases. (Chris Glover/CBC)

She mentioned the worksheet that was handed out in school “reveals how far more work we now have to do.” 

Within the e-mail despatched house to folks, Glauser agreed with Groat. 

“We all know there may be nonetheless far more work to be accomplished as we preserve with our journey in direction of fact and reconciliation,” Glauser mentioned. 

Trainer dealing with ‘disciplinary motion’

Kim Sweeney, the senior supervisor of communications and public relations for DSBN, mentioned the incident is below investigation. 

“The principal began by doing an audit of all of the supplies for that individual grade,” Sweeney mentioned, including the audit would go over handouts, supplies utilized in class and supplies hanging on the partitions within the classroom. 

A woman sits in front of a white wall.
Kim Sweeney, DSBN’s senior supervisor of communications and public relations, says there’s an ongoing audit of the training materials used within the kindergarten class at St. Davids Public Faculty. (Chris Glover/CBC)

She mentioned the college board believes nobody outdoors of Ekkian’s instructor has used the worksheet.

Sweeney confirmed the four-year-old’s instructor is white, has been at St. Davids for 4 years and has been instructing since 2017. 

When requested how the worksheet entered the curriculum, Sweeney mentioned the instructor launched it and the sheet isn’t a part of the general curriculum. 

“Educators as professionals could make selections about what they use within the classroom, and this merchandise was a kind of selections. It was absolutely the unsuitable selection,” Sweeney mentioned. 

“We’re ensuring this merchandise is destroyed.” 

Groat mentioned Ekkian’s instructor distributing the worksheet is disappointing, as a result of it reveals that the work Groat’s workforce has accomplished to tell educators about Indigenous folks and tradition is not reaching everybody. 

“What’s it that we have to do to ensure that everyone seems to be getting the skilled growth, and having it hit house for everybody?” she requested.

Sweeney mentioned “disciplinary motion is being taken with the instructor,” however because the audit is ongoing, she couldn’t give CBC Information particulars on what the reprimand was or what it might be as soon as the audit is full. 

As of this week, the instructor remains to be main Ekkian’s classroom. 

A possibility to study 

Smith mentioned that whereas she is disenchanted concerning the worksheet, she is not indignant. 

“If something, I hope it is a studying alternative,” she mentioned. 

“These phrases have modified, and the phrase ‘Indian’ [in reference to an Indigenous person] is a really hurtful phrase.”

Referring to the illustration, she mentioned, “Now we have to start out getting these visuals out of the system, so that folks can perceive who we’re as we speak.” 

Groat, who works to combine understanding of present Indigenous folks into DSBN’s colleges, mentioned: “I do assume that this is a chance to teach, and do some work with academics and employees.”

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