Backlash over ‘Privilege Awareness’ Campaigns at Canadian Schools

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Two educational institutions in Canada have come under fire after launching campaigns asking white people to ‘check their privilege’.

Flyers put up at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) last week featured a checklist of attributes including “Christian”, “white”, “male”, and “cisgender” — a word coined by gender activists to describe people who do not want to change sex.

Membership of these groups grants “unearned access to social power”, according to the posters, which were urging students to attend ‘social justice’ workshops on issues such as “gender identity”.

The flyers disappeared within days of having been put up after backlash on social media, in which the message was slammed as “discriminatory” and students slammed the institutionalising of identity politics.

“This is actually hate speech by definition,” Johnny Colin Fordo said of the flyers, pointing out that they “define certain groups of people and blame them for the ills of society”.

Meanwhile, a poster campaign purporting to raise awareness of racism was slammed by parents who said it unfairly “singles out” white people.

Posters in British Columbia’s School District 74 carry messages like “I cannot be blind to the invisible system of privilege I am part of”, with one showcasing the district’s principal of Aboriginal Education asking, “I have felt racism. Have you?”

The poster at the centre of the debate features a picture of district superintendent Teresa Downs next to the quote: “I have unfairly benefitted from the colour of my skin. White privilege is not acceptable.”

The nature of the poster prompted some parents to question the nature of the campaign, with families expressing concern that encouraging children to focus on their racial identity would sow division, CBC reported.

“I’d say 95 per cent of the people are in favour of having the posters taken down, and that’s from all races,” said Kansas Field Allen, a parent in the district whose husband and children are First Nations.

“They singled out one race to boost another”, she said, reporting that the campaign had caused children to feel ashamed of being white.

“No student should feel shame in school,” stated Allen, who told LifeSiteNews that her young son found it difficult to discuss the campaign.

“When I asked him what he thought the poster said, he replied: ‘It’s like directing hate at the white man, Mama,’” she recalled. “And he had a hard time saying the words. He bent his head down.”

Allen, who took to Facebook urging other parents complain to the district, said she would like to see the posters removed and for Downs to apologise and speak to children about their concerns.

“Racism is alive out there and our kids do need to learn about it, but they need to learn about it at an age appropriate level and they don’t need to learn about one race over another,” said Allen, who described how one of her daughters was harassed on the schoolbus and told to “go home” because of her light skin.

“Let’s talk to the students and see if we can do this in a better way, a more accepting way.”

Much of the criticism stems from parents ‘struggling with the term privilege’, according to Downs, who said the posters were simply another component of the work schools in the district have been doing for years.

Noting that approximately 60 per cent of students in the Gold Trails district are of First Nations ancestry, Downs said it is important that schools work to combat “the issues of colonisation, racism, prejudice and privilege”.

In recent years, colleges and universities in the UK have come under attack for being “white spaces, in which whiteness – and white privilege – dominates”, with academics demanding educational institutions in the UK “address the toxic Eurocentricity entrenched in every nook, cranny and crease”.

Despite the fact that white people are indigenous to the British Isles, growing campaigns to “de-centre” British and European history, and replace white writers, scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians with thinkers from the global South claim their goal is to “decolonise” UK institutions.


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