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New learning modules from the Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Office


On set with Omari Newton (left), actor, and Willis Taylor (right), actor and retired teacher. Nikitha Fester photos.

By Nikitha Fester and Milan Singh, BCTF staff, Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Office

 

Building awareness about racism and oppression through education and training is central to becoming a more inclusive and equitable organization. As teachers, members know the power of education and were the catalyst behind the creation of the BCTF anti-racism and anti-oppression learning modules. The learning modules are designed for members to improve their knowledge of anti-racism and anti-oppression, and learn more about their agency and voice as we work toward solidarity, equity, and inclusion within the Federation.

 

In building these resources, we had the joy and privilege of bringing together teachers, community activists, researchers, academics, and BCTF staff in unique ways, and you’ll see many of them featured in the content. We had the honour of listening to and learning from Elder Roberta Price, hearing from activists about justice and joy, and talking to experts about various topics related to agency, rest, and resilience! And layered throughout this resource are the voices of teachers; we had an opportunity to connect with several of you from across the province to gain insight into how to be more anti-racist.

 

Here is a behind-the-scenes look at our process and what the videos that make up the modules include. In collaboration with Dunya Media, we set out to develop themes for each module. We reviewed existing work done by the BCTF, thumbed through resources produced by experts, found gaps in what already exists, and then we hosted visioning sessions to really zero in on what our message about anti-racism would be. While the finer details remained abstract, a few things were certain:


  • The project needed to be academic, accessible, and action-oriented.

  • Aboriginal ways of knowing and being needed to be always at the heart of the work.

  • We needed to bring it back to agency, voice, and action every step of the way.


Elder Roberta Price is featured in the upcoming modules.

From here, research and collaboration began. The team combed over works by Stuart Hall, bell hooks, Pierre Bourdieu, Özlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo, and Ibram X. Kendi, to name a few, as well as through information offered by organizations such as BC’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, the University of British Columbia, and many others, to synthesize and summarize concepts and definitions. We consulted with advisory committees, BCTF departments, and member focus groups to determine what needed to be included in the learning modules. Slowly but surely, ideas began to take shape. The team was steadfast in ensuring members’ ideas were brought to life.

 

We identified gaps that needed to be addressed by the modules, including an understanding of the “cause” and “effect” of racism, and that a more nuanced approach to understanding race, racism, and systemic racism in relation to white supremacy and white culture was necessary. Without this foundational knowledge, opportunities for us to know about the issues more holistically and understand how systemic barriers show up in our society would be lost. This is what you’ll find in module one of the learning: a focus on anti-racist language and advice from colleagues about anti-racist actions we can take in our day-to-day lives.


In addition to connecting with members, this project called for a deep dive into the BCTF’s history. The BCTF has a long-standing history of publishing a magazine in which members can share information and opinions on events and people. This archive of member-written articles sparked our curiosity to know more about our provincial labour history in relation to what was happening at the BCTF. With support from research, conversations with teachers, and watching documentaries like A Time to Rise, we moved toward creating our own understanding of labour movements from the lenses of Indigenous, Black, and other racialized workers, and are excited to share what we learned about the many collective gains led by different racialized groups in the province. Anti-racism as union business is the focus of module two.

 

BCTF President Clint Johnston on set.

For many of us, conversations about race and racism can be stressful. The anticipation of what will be said, ignored, or misunderstood causes real impacts on our bodies. When talking about the harms of racism, racism as an embodied experience often gets overlooked. We were lucky to connect with Donna Chen, registered clinical counsellor, who explains what somatic awareness is and strategies to bring yourself to centre. Module three continues in this self-reflective theme with a lens activity and a deep dive into microaggressions and interventions. Finally, we had the pleasure of connecting with local activists to learn about the importance of anti-racist work and how they resource themselves so that they can sustain their work as anti-racist activists. There are so many nuggets of information in this discussion, we’ve added an extended version on Canvas (a learning system coming soon to bctf.ca).

 

Finally, module four starts off by sharing information about specific services the BCTF offers members and some tips to help you help others tap into their agency, action, and voice—because what better way to stand in solidarity than to help empower your peers? With those tools added to your solidarity toolbelt, you’ll move into the last segment of the training. This segment invites you to dream big, to consider what is possible when we have the right words, to better understand ourselves and our rights, and to see examples of what has already been achieved. You’ll hear from your colleagues as they share what inspires them and how the BCTF can improve. As they write down their ideas on sticky notes, we invite you to participate in the final activity and share your thoughts about the BCTF’s future—what would your sticky note say when you imagine a better BCTF?

 

The learning modules will be available for members to access through the Canvas learning system via the BCTF website. It will first be available to Annual General Meeting delegates and then will be opened up to the wider membership. Be sure to follow BCTF socials (Instagram, X, and Facebook) for behind-the-scenes sneak peeks and updates on full member access!

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