Dear OFSHEEA Members,
The events of recent weeks have made it clear that we are living in a pivotal time; a time when we can no longer ignore anti-Black racism, and must acknowledge the harm and violence caused by the various levels of oppression in Canada. OFSHEEA’s role as a subject association is to be a voice for Family Studies educators across the province. We raise this voice in solidarity with our Black colleagues, our Black students, and their communities, and join them in demanding justice, peace, and equality.
As Family Studies educators, we know that our subject area is not only about families; it is about communities, societies, and cultures. There is great potential for anti-racist work in our schools and classrooms. We can listen to, support, and validate the lived experiences of our Black colleagues and students. We can teach and encourage our colleagues and students to be critical of the structures and systems we live in, and to replace and transform the ones that don’t work. We can explore identity and its many intersections, and create spaces for meaningful and critical conversations.
But we don’t always live up to our potential. We centre our own experiences and cultures. We maintain the status quo instead of questioning it. We do what feels easy, comfortable, and safe. We worry about “saying the wrong thing”, so we avoid difficult topics. We forget that anti-oppression education is just as important in schools with less visible diversity. When we do these things, we ignore the fact that many of our students and colleagues do not have the privileges of safety and comfort, and that systemic racism will remain embedded in our institutions unless we address and challenge it.
Addressing anti-Black racism is a challenging and urgent task and one that requires action and ongoing allyship. We recognize that a statement of solidarity is not enough. We are committed to providing more anti-oppression resources to our members, and we will develop an anti-oppression action plan at our next board meeting. As educators, we know that we will continue to face and meet many challenges. In order to move forward we challenge you, our members, to commit to changing your pedagogy and professional practice to meaningfully address anti-Black racism. What action will you take?
OFSHEEA Board of Directors
Ad-Hoc Committee Members:
Theresa Aqui, Cassandra Francois, Nahid Mawji , Michelyn Gallant, Camille Naranjit, Derek Wun