African & Black Canadian Studies 12

We are excited to announce a new course created by and for the Richmond School District!

African and Black Canadian Studies 12 is an exploration of African or Black Canadian (people of African or Caribbean ancestry who have settled in Canada) history and culture, especially in amplifying Black voices and experiences in Canadian history and society through to the present day. 

This course will be rooted in the exploration of the impact of power dynamics on the dominant values and belief systems that shape Canadian society. Representation matters: African and Black students have a right to see themselves reflected in the curriculum, not just in stories of trauma but also in stories and examples of excellence. By the same token, learning about the experiences and motivations of diverse groups can move all students toward more critical perceptions of the world around them and build empathy. The presence of the first people of African descent in Canada can be traced back to the 1600s. Through the transatlantic slave trade, they were first brought to the Americas, and eventually to Canada between the 16th and 19th century. These histories include stories of strength, courage and perseverance in the struggle for freedom which are an integral part of not only American, but Canadian heritage as well. In particular, the contributions of African and Black settlers to politics, science, the arts, education, sports, and business played a significant role in shaping the province of B.C.

This course will explore the largely untold stories of African and Black Canadians and the impacts of systemic racism and displacement within our local history. This course will teach about the resilience, legacy, and excellence of African and Black Canadians as they continued to build their community across the nation, greatly influencing Canadian culture and society. The BC Ministry of Education has recognized that the teaching of African and Black histories supports the province’s commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

Through the Richmond Board of Education’s Five Year Strategic Plan, School District 38 has committed to ensuring that district learning environments are equitable and inclusive. The district is actively addressing “unconscious bias and privilege, systemic discrimination and marginalization based on factors such as ability, colour, cultural identity, gender, gender identity, Indigeneity, political beliefs, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and socio-economic status” (Strategic Plan Priority 2, Goal 2). These goals are congruent with the goals of this course.  

African and Black Canadian Studies 12 seeks to develop students’ cultural humility and broaden their perspectives and empathy as they interact, learn, and lead in their communities. Cultural humility is “a process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic conditioned biases, and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a life-long learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience” (First Nations Health Authority 2021).  

Based on principles of anti-racism and decolonization of education, the course will provide an opportunity to interrogate existing biases and explore different narratives that amplify Black voices and experiences. The course is intended to shift dominant narratives of history by taking a culturally and historically responsive approach.     While the course is identified as a Social Studies course, it is inherently cross-curricular in its content and design. A cultural studies approach and social justice lens have been used in the development of this course, and these lenses can be applied in exploring arts, literature, science, history, and contemporary stories of African and Black Canadians. Therefore, big ideas and curricular competencies in this course align with several other areas of learning such as English Language Arts, Science, Physical and Health Education, Career Education and Arts Education.