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To: Chairs and Directors of Pre-Service Early Childhood Programs and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

Anti-Racism in ECE Ontario

Anti-Racism in ECE Ontario

This public letter is calling on all Ontario pre-service early childhood education and care programs to:

1. Include a mandatory course on anti-racism that specifically highlights anti-Black racism, taught by those with lived Black experience. This course is to prioritize curriculum of Black and Indigenous scholarship and theory and consider how trauma, gender, and disability intersect with race to ensure multiple identities are explored.

2. Include anti-racism frameworks across all courses and faculty.

3. Contribute to the development of anti-racist policies within the entirety of the childcare system.

For full open letter including citations please visit AntiRacismECE.wixsite.com/Ontario

Why is this important?

Supporting the needs of Ontario children and families:

Ontario’s Early Learning Framework sets social justice as a milestone for preschool aged children [1] . With childcare being a foundational aspect of education it is essential anti-racism is included in this foundation. Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, stated that, “Anti-Black racism exists in Toronto,” [2] and in June of 2020 anti-Black racism was declared a public health crisis unanimously by the Toronto Board of Health [3]. For early childhood programs this means they must reflect this reality. According to census data, in the province of Ontario just about 30% of the population is racialized [4]. Regardless of population demographics all children benefit from educators who are trained in anti-racism. Research has shown that Black preschool children are monitored by teachers at a higher rate than white children [5]. Pre-service educators and care workers must be informed and knowledgeable of racialized experiences, the systems reproducing anti-Black racism and how to support Black and racialized children, families, and staff. The Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism suggests that “changes are needed to ensure that Black children and youth, including those who identify as queer and transgender, have access to the programs, protections, and supports that all children and youth need to grow up healthy, safe, and confident.” Early childhood programming must be ready to offer trauma-informed supports to Black children and youth. It is negligible to deny education and care workers in pre-service programs the researched-based knowledge surrounding anti-racism.

Children have a right to be educated by people with anti-racism education:

Black and Indigenous children are overrepresented in Ontario’s child welfare system not only in care, but also in decision to investigate [6]. Early Childhood Educators in Ontario contribute to this overrepresentation in investigations though their duty to report to Children’s Aid Society. Without anti-racism education and accountability, the sector will continue to contribute to the overrepresentation of Black and Indigenous families being investigated and separated by child welfare agencies. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), every child has the right to be educated by someone who is knowledgeable of their cultural identity, language and values. Under the same article, children also have the right to be educated in preparation for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equity and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons with Indigenous origin (Article 29) [7]. Early education and care is the foundational structure in which society balances on. It is vital to prepare educators with understanding of children’s worlds and reality before they enter spaces where it is their responsibility to uphold children’s rights. Canada ratified the UNCRC in 1991 [8] and under the ratification, it is our responsibility to push the state parties to undertake the necessary changes to support children’s rights.

Children start constructing understandings of race and racism by three months old:

Research indicates that children start constructing their understanding of race at a very young age and reproduce social power dynamics through play [9]. Children not only interpret their realities based on information from society but they themselves are contributing to social constructs such as race and racism [10]. It is urgent that the adults within young people’s learning environments understand how conversations and movement around race and racism can come to be. Research shows that children as young as 3-months-old start showing racial preferences [11], and by the time children reach preschool negative racial biases have already started to form [12]. Research continues to showcase that anti-racist teaching must first stem from an educator’s understanding of systems of power that play into racism [13]. Without this research-based knowledge early educators may consider their work to be a good deed rather than a source of agency and social justice change.

Early childhood educators are the gatekeepers of anti-racist information within the classroom. Educators and care workers must be guided in their pre-service education to feel a need of importance around anti-racist teaching and must feel equipped with this teaching. We are calling on all directors and chairs of early childhood pre-service programs, and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to ensure that anti-racism becomes a mandatory aspect of pre-service education for all early childhood educators in Ontario.

Co-Signed:
Community of Black Early Childhood Educators,
Parents of Black Children,
ANCHOR (formerly Vaughan African Canadian Association),
Association of Early Childhood Educators Ontario,
Bhutila Karpoche, NDP Member of Provincial Parliament, Parkdale-High Park, Official Critic for the Early Years and Child Care,
Arif Virani, Member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park,
Compass Early Learning and Care,
Carolyn Ferns, Policy Coordinator, Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare,
Early Years Professionals RISE UP T.O.,
Abigail Doris, Executive Coordinator, Toronto Community for Better Child Care,
Laura Mae Lindo NDP Member of Provincial Parliament, Official Critic for Anti-Racism and Colleges and Universities,
Ogho Ikhalo, Director of Women’s & Human Rights Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL),
CRRC - Community Race Relations Committee of Peterborough,
Child Care Now (Ottawa),
Family Supports Institute Ontario,
CUPE Local 2484,
Afro Women and Youth Foundation,
Queen Victoria P.S. Black Student Success Committee (QVBSSC),
CUPE local 2204 - Child Care Workers of Eastern Ontario ,
ECE Power Ottawa,

***For footnote references and more info visit AntiRacismECE.wixsite.com/Ontario

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Updates

2021-05-26 16:54:55 -0400

100 signatures reached

2021-05-26 10:44:19 -0400

Thank you to everyone who has added their name to this public letter! The College of Early Childhood Educators has written a letter in solidarity to the Ministry acknowledging the need for anti-racist education within the Early Childhood Education and Care sector which you can view here: https://tinyurl.com/advaykb

Keep sharing this campaign to help us get this message across to change-makers!

2021-05-25 19:56:21 -0400

50 signatures reached

2021-05-25 15:26:12 -0400

25 signatures reached

2021-05-25 10:31:02 -0400

10 signatures reached