Kamloops school district looks to incorporate black experiences into curriculum beginning next year | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops school district looks to incorporate black experiences into curriculum beginning next year

FILE PHOTO - Starting next year, black students in SD73 may have an opportunity to share their life experiences and help create new opportunities for learning about black history, culture and more.
June 25, 2020 - 7:00 AM

The superintendent of School District 73 has heard the concerns raised by an online petition calling for the inclusion of black history and experiences in the curriculum, and she says work will begin during the next school year to better represent the black community.

“In the curriculum, there is very little actual content that relates specifically to black history… There are opportunities for teachers to address black history, but I don’t think it goes far enough,” says superintendent Alison Sidow.

Sidow says it’s important to her to include more opportunities for learning about the experiences of black people in Canada and worldwide but there are no specific guidelines for such education set out in the provincially-mandated curriculum.

“There are opportunities, the question is, are these experiences of the students of black ancestry being properly reflected in the curriculum?” Sidow says. “As a black woman myself, I see those opportunities and I look forward to being able to initiate a more critical look at how we’re addressing black history in our schools.”

Starting during the next school year, the school district will speak with students in elementary and high schools to learn about their life experiences and what they would like to learn about in relation to black history, culture and experiences.

“Our team will be looking next year early on at the lived experience of children of African-Canadian ancestry or black ancestry to better understand how we can ensure their needs are being met and their experiences are being reflected in the curriculum,” Sidow says.

The petition, which now has more than 500 signatures, calls for the inclusion of more black-made media, African history taught alongside European and Asian history, a focus on black Canadians and how they’ve impacted Canadian history and urges the district to teach students about systemic racism in North America.

Sidow says although the school district can’t actually change the curriculum, there are spaces in the curriculum to teach students about black experiences. For example, she suggested that a black perspective can be included when studying the changing demographics of the world and what that means for social and economic structures, historical inclusion and points of contention. She says there is not yet an expected date yet as to when these topics may be integrated into the curriculum.

Click here to sign the petition.

— This story was updated at 10:52 a.m. on Thursday, June 25, 2020 to clarify when the school board will begin the process of speaking to black students about their life experiences.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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