B.C. school assignment deemed racist on social media

An assignment taken home by a Grade 4 Kelowna student has sparked a heated online conversation

B.C. school assignment deemed racist on social media

An assignment taken home by a Grade 4 Kelowna student has sparked a heated online conversation about cultural sensitivity.

Scarlette Arie posted to Facebook photos of a “racist” homework assignment she said a nine-year-old Indigenous student had taken home from a new school.

“While going from a school that celebrated her culture, she has come to one that is devaluing it by calling her culture nasty things that she has to recall in the work,” said Arie, in the post that’s been widely shared.

“It was Pink Shirt Day (Wednesday) and as far as I am concerned this teacher is the biggest bully out there for sending a First Nations’ girl home with such a disgusting assignment.”

The assignment in question mimics the journal of a European settler in Upper Canada.

“Father and the other men have been arguing a lot lately. They don’t want us children to hear, but I can’t help but listen. Sounds like the First Nations are wanting us to leave. They don’t like the way we treat the land,” reads the assignment, written from the perspective of a child.

“I don’t think they understand the land doesn’t have feelings and it is our land now. I must remember that we are more educated than they are, but still, some of the ideas are silly.”

In a later page of the assignment students are asked to write words to describe how the girl’s family feels about First Nations people.

“It goes on to say how the white father doesn’t want his daughter associating with ‘them’ and the young girl claims Small Turtle (cue stereotyped name) isn’t like ‘the others’ she is not ‘savage’, she is kind and protecting,” writes Arie in her Facebook post.

While Arie and others who have shared the post are pointing to what they say is racist material, the principal of Quigley Elementary school, where the assignment was handed out, said it’s being taken out of context and part of a larger unit of study that involved a number of readings, many class discussions and writing portfolio inclusive of numerous student responses to those readings and discussions.

“As part of the revised B.C. curriculum, our Grade 4 teachers have been working with students over the last couple of weeks to learn more about the different perspectives of the First Nations’ people and early European settlers to Upper and Lower Canada as it was in the 1800s,” said principal Des Sjoquist.

“In order to understand the challenges facing Canada today, we believe it is necessary to explore the perspectives of the past.”

Cultures, both currently and historically, he said, can mistreat one another and it is only through analyzing the past that people can learn to not make the same mistakes in the future.

“An ethno-centric worldview during the formation of our country led to many conflicts,” he said. “It is important to discuss how different groups of people perceive each other and it is only through dialogue and discussion that we can develop empathy and appreciation for each other. This is perhaps even truer today than it ever has been in our global society.”

As for the online frustration it sparked, Sjoquist said the school always encourages parents and community members to work with teachers to move forward to build empathy and understanding.

“Taking resources out of context is always a dangerous and slippery slope,” he said.

“As is always done when dealing with sensitive topics, a great deal of time and care goes into designing lessons and discussions to support the learning process around these topics.”

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Ladysmith area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

The Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary donated $23,044 to Ladysmith Seconday School. From left to right: Steffen Toxopeus, Larry Shaw, Dave Travers, and Duck Paterson. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary donates $23,044 to support health of LSS students

The money will go towards funding the Hunger Bites program and purchase emergency supplies

(File photo)
LETTERS: Responses to Pateron’s Perspective

Jacqueline Leitch-Murphy, and Richard Tarnoff respond to Duck Paterson’s column

The RCMP are reminding drivers to find alternative ways home if they have consumed anything that impairs their ability to drive. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired Ladysmith driver flees road check twice on the same night

The officer issued the driver numerous violation tickets, and a four-month driving suspension

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Mowi Canada West’s Sheep Pass salmon farm, the company’s final B.C. operation to receive certification from the Aquaculture Steward Council. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is questioning a government decision to phase out salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada West)
Canadian Federation of Agriculture backs B.C. salmon farmers

Letter to prime minister calls for federal “champion” for aquaculture growth

Most Read