Essay on Racial Formations in the Education System in Canada

Published: 2021/11/18
Number of words: 2951


The face of the Canadian school has evolved significantly during the past few decades. The 1996 Statistics Canada Census showed that 3.2 million visible minority peoples represented 11.2 per cent of the Canadian population (statistics Canada, 2013). More than 1.1 million people of indigenous origin are excluded. There are many and growing children of ethnocultural and ethnic minorities and indigenous ancestry and culture. As parents, educators, school administrators, community members and taxpayers, we all recognize the essential role of education as a catalyst for society’s knowledge, socialization and acceptance. The nation’s collective position and ability to adjust, communicate, connect, compete with, and flourish in today’s global economy depend on the instruments that is provided during the early years of school, like their views of themselves and others as well as our beliefs and behaviors.

It is essential to acknowledge the long history of racism in our society, especially in our schools. The colonial treatment of Aboriginal peoples is the most flagrant expression of racism in the Canadian education system. In the late 1800s to the 1970s, the construction of Aboriginal schools in the nation sought to segregate and assimilate thousands of indigenous children into civilized Christians’ favored way of life (Wilk et al., 2017). Several victims have been subjected to sexual and physical abuse and trauma-related to marginalization, dehumanization and acculturation. Some Canadian schools seem to have forgotten about this strange past. This problem does not seem to be addressed in the school curriculum as often as it should be to raise awareness and educate pupils about diversity. In the early twentieth century, short school terms, insufficient financing, and racism harmed education in Alabama (US). For example, in the mid-1920s, white schools received $13.1 million, but black schools received just $1.4 million. White male instructors received an average yearly income of $863, while white female teachers earned $422, while men teachers in Africa earned just $480, and female teachers in Africa earned only $140 (Wilk et al., 2017). This is not only a question of worldly ideas. It shows, however, how many political power positions were prejudiced against the black people and believed they were less likely to succeed. In reality, however, financial limitations were the major obstacle to the progress of education. Although it is normal for people to forget their history, they must also learn from their mistakes and educate others about bias. Many color teachers and students have experienced prejudice and discrimination at the hands of schools and the government.

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Additional negative aspects that need to be tackled and taught about include current issues such as racial stereotypes and prejudice against individuals based on race or ethnic background. It is a misconception that racism in schools happens in large numbers between children. Many white teachers claimed that anti-racist teaching was not a priority because it was unrelated to specific topics. White teachers called for an end to anti-racism programs. As one teacher put it, most instructors view anti-racist education as a transitional trend. They don’t recognize themselves as racists. Even today, many teachers continue to deny racism or to use color blindness in their classes.

Disregarding the race or color of a person is not the response to educational racism because blindness eliminates the distinctive qualities of the learner. Whenever a teacher declares, “I do not see color,” they essentially empty a child, refusing to recognize them for their identity and not educating them for a future in which color will contribute to their success and abilities. There are several ways in which racism expresses itself, including verbal abuse and racial slurs. It may be conveyed orally or through the use of an offensive, stereotypical or disparaging image. It may express itself in social situations, such as a reluctance to sit next to someone or physical attacks. It may also be found in the rules, processes, and patterns of an organization or society. Many kids encourage other children to view racial and stereotypical comments as ‘jokes’ in schools, but this issue must be handled seriously since it harms students.

In addition, teachers fail to interfere in these ongoing racist activities in youngsters, which lead to a rise in the frequency of racist events. Education and society must educate those who are stubborn and prejudiced towards innocent people. There is a common conviction that racism does not exist, especially in Canada; this is not true, however, since the idea of racial supremacy is elsewhere reflected in the domination of European civilizations, languages and cultures (Tuck & Yang, 2012). Children should feel safe and have someone to depend on; yet, the recurrence of racist acts in many schools creates sorrow.

In terms of education standards and resources, Canada is frequently regarded as a worldwide leader. Although we acknowledge and admire the efforts of many instructors who dedicate their lives to empowering students by giving education, it is essential to realize that the education system in Canada has fundamental shortcomings. Although we are excellent in many fields of education, we have not achieved substantial progress in the inclusion and empowerment of all pupils. As the student population in Canada diversifies, schools must reflect on their approach to change, their fundamental understanding of anti-racism issues and their acceptance as a “catalyst for every student’s sentiment of affirmation, solidarity and critique.”

The problem here is not the quality of our children’s education but its fairness. Racism continues to be a significant obstacle to attaining educational equity between the racial minority and Aboriginal pupils. The rest of the paper will discuss the historical context, teacher instruction, social community, curriculum and teacher perception/bias.

Historical Context

A literature review on racial and social connections shows a void in contemporary research that integrates disciplines. For example, traditionally, non-Aboriginal officials were responsible for Aboriginal education policy, aiming at colonial assimilation. While this is no longer the goal of Canadian education, the curriculum’s content and teaching techniques continue to be Eurocentric, maintaining the prevailing colonial model of cognitive thinking. Although race-based educational policies are obsolete, their impact is nevertheless seen in the social underpinnings of today’s educational institutions.

The 1867 Indian Act is a federal government policy that is racially motivated. It regulates interactions between Aboriginal peoples and the federal government in a very similar manner to the original written agreement (Henderson, 2006). It is an oppressive regime that controls all aspects of Status Indian communities and Indian policies from conception until death. With such ingrained political processes in society, adopting a new model of learning is very difficult. All pupils should have a unique educational experience, and Aboriginal pedagogy and epistemology promote this viewpoint. Regrettably, the literature has documented many educators and politicians’ reluctance to question the established quo. One explanation for this conflict is that integrating culturally responsive pedagogy requires instructors to perform more effort. Provincial education ministries are responsible for the bulk of financing in Canada and supplying Indigenous curriculum and materials, but teachers are responsible for incorporating the content into their lessons.

Teacher Instruction

While most undergraduate education programs include classroom management training, knowing how to manage a classroom in an ethnically diverse environment is not. At the college level, students have limited, if any, opportunities to study multicultural education. To benefit from teaching in multicultural education, particularly Aboriginal education, students often must enroll in graduate school or pursue a specialty in Native Studies, which is not provided at most schools. Many teachers get their first exposure to a multicultural classroom (if they are fortunate enough to receive it) during their classroom assignments. Regrettably, imagine a supervising practicum instructor lets their prejudice for any student show through in their interactions with a student-teacher and a diverse class. In such a scenario, they may profoundly affect the learner’s attitude and views throughout their career.

Teacher training about their emotions and responses to minority pupils in their classrooms contributes to explaining educators’ prevalent attitudes and behaviors. Lack of pre-service teacher preparation, particularly examples of successful methods to teach an Aboriginal subject and ways to make it relevant to non-Aboriginal students, may be regarded as impediments to effective teaching of Aboriginal material.

School Communities

The race is one of many lenses through which we see and perceive the world, and it tints everything that comes before us. Schools that abandon this concept will never be able to resolve race relations problems inside their facilities. The educational institution’s structural norms and practices permit the maintenance of racial segregation within school communities. Schools that maintain racially discriminatory standards with non-white families will never develop into the safe settings that every kid deserves. Suburban, middle-class ideals remain prevalent in certain Canadian schools. Schools must accept and promote ethnic diversity. Members must comprehend the impact of race on all kids’ identities, self-esteem, social relationships, and academic performance.

In a 2003 Canadian research, James Ryan observed that many administrators questioned were reluctant to confess to institutional racism. Possible explanations for this lack of discourse include an inability to recognize ‘race’ problems, denial of racism to maintain one’s face, and views of racism as not systematic. School communities that ignore the existence of racial issues inside their walls foster Eurocentric cultural domination. Several instructors are unaware that numerous school communities celebrate European culture on a near-daily basis. These ‘celebrations’ occur in schools when the dominant white group is privileged via everyday attitudes, practices, and school structure. Thinking along the lines of ‘now that everything is equal’ or ‘I don’t even notice color’ or ‘It’s out of my control’ or ‘I can’t connect’ results in biased thinking. It may result in stereotyping and discriminatory behaviors within a school community.

School communities have a critical impact on a child’s life. However, regardless of color or ethnic origin, our first education in Whiteness comes from inside the family. A guardian’s educational experiences as a student may directly impact the educational experiences of the children in their care. If a school had a bad experience during their youth, it might harm school activities, rules, and personnel. Aboriginal caregivers who have lived through the atrocities of residential schools may struggle to communicate trust and a desire to be a part of a school community. Fear of judgment and classification may trump a parent’s capacity to contribute to their child’s academic and social achievement. School officials and instructors must demonstrate to parents their right to participate in their child’s academic and social development. Without this assistance, many Aboriginal families cannot contribute to and benefit from the strengths of school communities that are working to improve the lives of all children and welcome all modes of learning.


All pupils are taught a one-sided curriculum on Aboriginal history, philosophy, and worldview from a European viewpoint. When Indigenous curricula are presented as all-inclusive (i.e., disregarding the distinctiveness of each particular tribe and Aboriginal culture), chances for cultural bridge-building between Aboriginal and white pupils may be lost. Rigid, linear temporal limits define western worldview, and the curriculum in conventional Canadian schools is Eurocentric in nature (Glen Sean Coulthard, 2014). Aboriginal teachings have always been free of strict temporal restrictions and provide a more comprehensive perspective.

Simultaneously, all curriculum is standardized, comparing students of all talents, skills, and cultural backgrounds to a single model of ‘normal,’ and punishing them academically and sometimes socially if they do not match the model established by Education Ministries. Certain groups continue to believe that Aboriginal kids are incapable of mastering Western science and math. Educators are unable to provide an atmosphere conducive to higher thinking in Indigenous students due to a misconception. Educators said in Claypool and Preston’s research that Saskatchewan’s assessment methods failed to cover their pupils’ physical, emotional, spiritual, and cultural dimensions. A more holistic approach is needed for Aboriginal pupils since there has been an excessive focus on cognitive domains. This may also be said about classroom culture.

Teacher perception/bias

Teachers can have a life-long effect on their pupils. A teacher’s actions and views may mold, alter, and ruin a student’s emotional well-being, self-esteem, career goals, behaviors, relationships, morality, and values. This is why, in racial and social interactions, a teacher’s views and biases toward pupils are critical.

Regardless of race or ethnic origin, education may help communities, families, and people develop a sense of purpose and positive identity. Additionally, educators may affect how youngsters feel about themselves. Within educational psychology as a subfield, the emphasis on classroom management and motivation for learning is critical for comprehending some of the contemporary problems surrounding racial and social relations in schools. Two variables that may affect students are how a teacher chooses to teach content and their teaching style. Subtle statements conveying disrespectful and demoralizing attitudes towards Aboriginal peoples and visible minorities equally impact thoughts and feelings as overtones.

Students who are continuously stereotyped based on their assigned social standing vs their accomplishments risk acquiring a diminished sense of self-worth and increasing annoyance at having to constantly “prove” themselves. Teachers’ prejudices and erroneous ideas may contaminate their views of power and privilege, impeding their ability to behave as culturally sensitive educators. A teacher’s ignorance about the effect of their actions on pupils’ psychological and intellectual development may cause difficulties (Maynard, 2017). Without changing their own beliefs and expectations of pupils, instructors may harm kids for the rest of their lives. When students are pigeonholed into strict stereotyped groups, they suffer at all levels of social interactions (teacher and student, student and student, parent and school). Students develop resentment against their peers when they are denied chances. They resent instructors for their racial discrimination. As parents are compelled to defend their outcast kids, the connection between parents and school deteriorates.

Critical Reflection

Combating racism and fostering equality for the futures of children is a critical topic that must be examined. Because everyone is a product of their society, individuals may claim that their racist and prejudiced thoughts and comments are just personal (ACLRC). According to a York University study, black students in the Greater Toronto Area are regularly streamed into practical programs rather than academic ones. They are suspended at much greater rates than their white peers (Clawley, 2017). Collecting race-based data from students may assist educators in broadening the scope of learning, from tackling structural racism to creating courses relevant to all students’ experiences. Collecting data will help in reducing assumptions and entrenched behaviors in schools. This may enable kids to obtain an education free from the bias of others. The bulk of extant material is devoted to the racism experienced by African-American pupils, especially African-American males. Not only must education research improve its presentation of the significance and impact of anti-Black racism on school policies and structures (Dumas, 2016), but it must also improve its intersectional studies of racism (Hopson & Dixson, 2011), as well as its analysis of the racialized educational experiences of Hispanic, indigenous, Pacific Islander, and Asian students. Nobody should criticize or overlook the fact that all racial minority groups face prejudice and exclusion. Everyone must be aware of this bad aspect of our culture, and classroom racism must be reduced. To summarize, educational advances are necessary. Schools should incorporate a clearer acknowledgement of racism in future academic orientations.

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Racism in education must be examined historically, now, and in the future from various viewpoints to achieve equality for all students and teachers. Racism is pervasive in classrooms. Schools must begin immediately to eradicate racism from education since it will not just disappear from society. There are still a growing number of individuals who are unaware or apathetic to racism, stereotyping, or any other kind of discrimination that occurs in schools and society (Frantz Fanon, 2016). Everyone should have the same educational opportunities and be allowed to appreciate their racial and cultural uniqueness.


Civilization is the primary impediment for educators and kids attempting to create safe, loving, and egalitarian connections in school communities. Civil society is not a forum for discussion of racism. Many individuals would rather deny its presence in the belief that if you do not call attention to the elephant in the room, it will go away. Is transformation conceivable for a student who has endured twelve years of covert, disregarded institutional racism, either as a privileged member of the dominant group or as a victim of the horrors of perpetual oppression? In other words, can a person work as a change agent if their place within society’s social, political, and historical institutions confers advantage or persecution on them that they are unable of acknowledging? The aim is that by creating an integrated educational model that addresses all of the factors that adversely impact First Nations students’ and instructors’ racial and social relationships, the answer will be yes.


Frantz Fanon. (2016). The Fact of Blackness. Moor’s Head Press.

Glen Sean Coulthard. (2014). Red skin, white masks: rejecting the colonial politics of recognition. Minneapolis; London University of Minnesota Press [20]17.

Henderson, W. B. (2006, February 7). Indian Act | The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Maynard, R. (2017, November 29). Canadian Education is Steeped in Anti-Black Racism. The Walrus. Canada. (2013, May 8). Immigration and Ethnocultural Diversity in Canada.

Tuck, E., & Yang, K. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society1(1), 1–40.

Wilk, P., Maltby, A., & Cooke, M. (2017). Residential schools and the effects on Indigenous health and well-being in Canada—a scoping review. Public Health Reviews38(1).

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