The vibe is different when you land in Toronto Pearson Airport. Yes, it’s an international city and therefore, you’d expect to see a diverse population. However, this was a type of diversity I hadn’t experienced outside of a place like New York City. Immediately in the airport, the handlers, customer service agents, security were all authentically diverse. Unfortunately, as a visibly Muslim woman, sometimes it feels I’m allowed into spaces as a token. Toronto felt a bit different. This wasn’t just a vibe, but this city actually is the most diverse in the world.
The array of cuisine in the city was simply exquisite. Walking into the hotel room and turning on the TV, I found a visibly Muslim anchor narrating the evening news. I caught myself reimagining a space where individuals actually felt like they belonged and didn’t necessarily have to leave a piece of themselves at the door of whatever space they’re entering (school, workplace, community). I gave myself the opportunity to think about what it might look like in school spaces.
What Does the Most Diverse City in the World Look Like? [Snippets]
Visibility in Education
The veneer of beautiful cities is one thing, working on developing an approach where its citizens feel welcomed and actually part of the fiber of the community is another component of creating community. In conversation with education officials, it was noted several times the concept of “decolonizing education”. The idea that Indigenous knowledge has a place in the formal learning process. This struck deeply because education officials were open in accepting their position in the colonial narrative, understanding that moving forward in the fashion of Truth and Reconciliation requires a deep identifying factor.
Young people exist in a frightening world. One way to make it less frightening is to ensure they feel seen in their spaces of learning. This is being translated into Canadian curriculum via culturally inclusive pedagogy. This would incorporate history of Residential Schools, beginning the day with land acknowledgements. Integrating Indigenous knowledge into the curriculum seeking strength based approaches; connection to the land and country, art, belonging and self-determination. It is a holistic approach with the goal of student success.
**This website is not an official US Department of State website. The views and information presented are the participant’s own and do not represent the Fulbright for Global Classrooms Program, the US Department of State, or IREX.**