Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Canada Is the Racially Tense America of the Past

Educators in Canada’s largest city must like jar collections, because they certainly are turning the school system into one.

A jar collection is a mix-mash of stuff you can put into a jar, one jar for each item. Some collectors have different jams, others bottle caps, the point is everything gets put in its own jar. Nice and neat, and nothing interacts with the stuff in the other jars.

That’s just what the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) – Canada’s largest public school board – is doing to solve their child rearing problems.
Justify Full
Black kids not getting along with the other kids? No problem, TDSB created a black only school. This idea originated ironically just as the United S

en:Birchmount Park Collegiate InstituteImage via Wikipedia

tates of America swore in their first black president, showing how far race relations have come in the States. We Canadians can learn a thing or two from our neighbors to the south.

The current problem the TDSB is trying to solve using their separate, isolate and divide mentality is immigration. There is a school in the city’s north-east end in a neighborhood where immigration is so high, they haven’t room for the 600-plus kindergarten-aged children. So, the TDBS has raised the notion of creating a kindergarten only school, just to accommodate all the newcomer’s kids to this country.

It is one thing to keep your strawberry jam in one bottle, so as to not mix it with your grape jelly. It is quite another to separate young kids of different ages, ethnic backgrounds and cultural heritages.

By separating kids on these levels, they don’t interact – and learn and grow – with these kids from different ages, ethnic backgrounds and cultural heritages.
And that fosters hate, racism and bigotry, which are traits which should not be a part of any country’s cultural fabric, let alone a country that prides itself on welcoming people from all nations, such as Canada.

The TDSB may disguise this racist segregation using weasel words such as “black focused school,” or practical arguments such as the fact that they have over 600 kids in one grade, where normally they have maybe 60 to 100 kids in that one grade. But let’s be crystal clear – they are separating kids from all other cultures, and isolating them in their own schools.

Having a “black focused school” is pretty obvious, but the same thing is being done with the immigrant children. Yes the kindergarten classes are standi

The head office of the Toronto District School...Image via Wikipedia

ng-room only full, but the immigrants tend to all be from one cultural group. So intentional or not, once again the TDSB will be separating kids from one specific ethnic group, from everyone else.

A more traditionally Canadian solution would be to break up the kindergarten among other schools in nearby communities, placing kids in other schools across a geographic radius. But the TDSB is following the current trends of racial segregation and cultural divides.

One of the biggest on-going problems in Canada has been the segregation of cultural communities.

Over twenty-years ago, Canada really was a cultural mosaic. The streets were humming with kids from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, playing, learning and growing up together. I remember growing up, playing tag with the other kids in the neighborhood – I always seemed to be “it.” I knew my next door neighbors were Italian, the kids from across the street were Polish, there was a family from the Ukraine, and a few other global villages represented by the other kids. I never really noticed when I was a kid growing up, back then, I was just a geeky little boy, trying to catch one of the other kids so I wouldn’t still be “it.”

The families of these children for the most part got along with their neighbors, embracing the various cultural differences, learning and growing from one another. All the parents looked out for each other’s kids. If a kid scraped his or her knee, it didn’t matter which house he or she went too, the band-aids weren’t cultural-specific, and the parents didn’t care what color the kid’s skin was. They just did what any good parent would do, by mending the kid’s knee, offering a smile and some kind words to make the hurt go away.

Not any more – walk into many a Canadian neighborhood these days and you’ll know instantly what ethnic or cultural part of town you are in. We have China Town, Little Italy, the Greek Village – but we don’t have that once wonderful and amazing Canadian street where cultural ethnicity does not matter, and the kids and parents learn, love and laugh together regardless of the accent of the laugh, or the color of the skin.

I miss that Canada – because that was – and should still be – what it really means to be Canadian.

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