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Exploring Histories Confronting White Supremacy: Aneet Kahlon, Erin Villaronga Mulligan, and Mark McLean

This is the first post in a new series from the course “Topics in the History of Education: Histories Confronting White Supremacy,” led by Professor Mona Gleason.

This course delves into colonialization, racism, and systemic oppression, exploring how historical understanding shapes our world today. In this series, students collaborated to craft blog posts where they explore themes related to course topics and share their insights with the larger EDST audience.

Keep an eye out for more posts in this series!


Co-authored by Aneet Kahlon, Erin Villaronga Mulligan, and Mark McLean, this blog post discusses the complexities of historical narratives surrounding education and white supremacy. Drawing insights from the work of Michael Marker and other course readings, the authors reflect on topics like colonial borders, Indigenous experiences, and educational structures.


In this post, we centered our discussion on the work of Michael Marker, an Arapaho scholar, whose invaluable contributions have not only left an enduring impact on the EDST community but have also significantly influenced scholarship in higher education (Gill et al., 2023).

Within our conversations we weave together our understandings of his work with other readings that we have been offered throughout our course to answer the question:

“What have you learned about the past in relation to education and white supremacy that you didn’t know before?”

ANEET: In other classes, we’ve talked about how borders are arbitrary concepts, but Michael Marker’s (2015) article, “Borders and Borderless Coast Salish: Decolonizing Historiographies of Indigenous Schooling,” made me think about this idea within the context of B.C.

India Pakistan border

It’s new for me to think about how Canadian residential schools and American boarding schools affected a single community differently depending on what side of the border they were on. It reminded me about the partition of India and Pakistan, where connected communities were forced to migrate to a specific side of a border randomly drawn up by a white man. I also think about my research because focusing on B.C. educational policies is a constraint that’s inherently colonizing. Indigenous communities don’t end at the border just because my analysis does.

MARK: I’m thinking about how many times Marker walks up to an idea and then shows that it’s too complex to follow in a short article, and instead notes another author in that space. These threads are worth pulling, and need to be pulled, and that makes the idea more complex.

ANEET: It’s been helpful to complicate ideas in this class!

MARK: When I read Marker’s work, I connected it back to a chapter of Thomas King’s (2012) book The Inconvenient Indian that we read; they both serve as a call to complicate things and acknowledge their complexity. As opposed to a flattened perspective, just on one side of the border. There is a quote in King’s work that says, “North America hates the Legal Indian. Savagely. The Legal Indian was one of those errors in judgment that North America made and has been trying to correct for the past 150 years” (King, 2012, p. 69). Each country wants to have a story to tell about what is going on with Indigenous peoples, Indigenous existence, and epistemologies, but all ignore complexity. In the U.S. it was public schools where Indigenous students experienced more racism, whereas Marker suggests that boarding schools were places where Indigenous students could also connect and define their own identity. This made me think about identity and what King (2012) called the “Dead Indian,” because as a nation, we’re not seeking out these complexities.

ERIN: Having done my undergraduate work at a U.S. institution, I guess I’ve never tried to fully articulate the experience of studying structural racism of public schools and educational inequality in an American context to learning about movements of indigenizing or decolonizing public schools in British Columbia. Because of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, I think many people are so focused on the historical aspect of residential schools, and not as much on the broader racist and colonial structures of modern public schooling systems. This is a complete flip in perspective for me; something that I’m processing as I talk through it now.

MARK: Yeah! Both articles speak to the idea of treating residential schools like they only existed in the past. And Canadians love a chance to forgive ourselves. We’re less concerned with the transition out of residential school systems, and how much racism and damage happened in that situation. Everything didn’t just end when the last residential school closed. Again, it’s just flattening a narrative.

CBC Article: Vehicle torched, lobster pounds storing Mi'kmaw catches trashed during night of unrest in N.S.

When we talked about the Boldt Decision and how the judge decided on fishing rights for Indigenous peoples in America, it reminded me of the CBC article talking about the Mi’kmaq lobster disputes in Nova Scotia. Canadian media didn’t know how to approach what was basically terrorism by white fisherman. So much of this results from an educational system where we’ve been taught this flat story, flat story, flat story. How different would it be if there was an understanding of the complexity of all this, for the Mi’kmaq and for our case, the Coast Salish?

Exploring histories of white supremacy

ERIN: I want to shout out a different article from one of Mona’s classes. It’s “‘The children show unmistakable signs of Indian blood’: Indigenous children attending public schools in British Columbia, 1872-1925” by Sean Carleton (2021). He writes about the history of Indigenous children that attended public schools in British Columbia. It was an interesting read for me not having known a lot about how public schools were established here. The stories of those children and the adults (Indigenous and settler) that facilitated their enrollment in those public schools added another dimension to that normally flat story you’re talking about, Mark. The histories of white supremacy and those fighting against it in the world of education don’t all follow the singular residential school narrative that gets told.

ANEET: Mark, you’ve made a good point! What we learn about through Canadian education systems must fit within the constraints of what Eurocentric values want us to learn. For example, social studies curriculum teaches “Canadian” or “B.C.’s” history. A bordered history. These constraints act as a mechanism of validating those imaginary borders.

MARK: Yeah! I keep thinking, Aneet, about your comment about the border in Punjab, and how people had to swap back and forth across the border. I just googled the Salish Sea because I never think about it as a unit in the same way that we think about the Mediterranean as a unit. It’s so hard to untangle… yeah, it’s just really hard to not see borders.

ERIN: And all our other units of geographical organization. Water borders have always been especially bizarre to me. Because water is water! You just can’t draw a border in water! And that really emphasizes another idea that I think Marker brings us face to face with within this article: about  how settlers conceptualize not only land, but place.

Place-based education is big, especially in early childhood right now, with things like forest schools, but we need to be careful about what type of teaching is still reinscribing very particular understandings of place that don’t align with the original stewards of this land. I don’t know if it’s possible to reach the same understanding. But if we’re taking children out for nature walks and talking about street names and showing them “borders” of parks and such, it’s almost like, what’s the point?

MARK: Totally! This connects well to “Decolonization is not a metaphor” by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang:

“These fantasies can mean the adoption of Indigenous practices and knowledge, but more, refer to those narratives in the settler colonial imagination in which the Native (understanding that he is becoming extinct) hands over his land, his claim to the land, his very Indian-ness to the settler for safe-keeping. This is a fantasy that is invested in a settler futurity and dependent on the foreclosure of an Indigenous futurity.”

Essentially, when settlers adopt watered-down practices of place-based learning, its main purpose is to reinforce a safe settler future.


We went for a walk in Musqueam territory for Pro-D day and they pointed out Iona Beach Regional Park across the river and showed us that it didn’t count as their territory. Musqueam has fishing rights, but they’re hampered by the actions of the logging industry across the river. I imagined these lines across the water and it’s an absurd, imposing, and abstract idea. It’s just a river.

musqueam teaching kit map

I wanted to share this map with you. Musqueam collaborates with the Museum of Anthropology, and they have a map that shows how the delta formed over 10,000 years ago. It made me think… MAN! Richmond didn’t exist 10,000 years ago. Indigenous peoples were here before Richmond existed as a physical land. Not only are these lines arbitrary, they’re also shifting!

References:

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Navigating Anti-Colonialism in Education: An Interview with Aneet Kahlon

This post is the second in a series of interviews with EDST student representatives.

The first post featured an interview with Silas Krabbe, GAA representative on GPACC.

Aneet Kahlon Banner

Today I am thrilled to introduce Aneet Kahlon (she/her/hers), a MA student and student representative in EDST. Aneet graciously took the time to share insights into her academic journey, research interests, and experiences within EDST.

Map of Calgart

From Science to SCPE

Aneet’s background before coming to EDST was in science learning. Coming from Calgary, AB Aneet earned her Biological Sciences degree at the University of Calgary, as well as a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta.

Originally wanting to come to UBC to study Marine Biology straight out high school, Aneet instead joined the Educational Studies department in fall 2022.

Finding Her Niche: SCPE and Anti-Racism 

In her pursuit of a Masters degree, Aneet found EDST’s SCPE (Society, Culture and Politics in Education) a wonderful fit, focusing on anti-racism and educational policy. Much of her previous university experiences were large, lecture-format classes, so she has really enjoyed the switch to smaller classes and the ability to talk about and engage in coursework with others.

Getting Involved as a Student Representative

Aneet is currently the student representative on the Scholarships and Awards Committee. While she hasn’t had the chance to meet with the committee this year, she is no stranger to volunteering in the department. Last year she was a SCPE student representative, and found it was a great way to meet people in EDST and get to know more about the inner-workings of the program.

People's Shadows (clipart)

Aneet shared her motivation for joining committees as a student representative, in that she aims to expand her involvement beyond classroom learning, emphasizing the importance of understanding the program’s decision-making processes.

Life Beyond EDST

When asked about hobbies, Aneet shared that she is learning to draw. In addition to taking drawing lessons, Aneet also enjoys doing other arts and crafts like embroidery, creative writing, journaling and poetry.

Aneet is hoping to incorporate her newfound passion for drawing into her thesis through the inclusion of family photos she has been drawing. She described how the process of carefully studying the small details of family photos has been a moving process which has allowed her to feel more connected to her grandparents and family memories. She credits one of her supervisors, Hartej Gill, for encouraging her to integrate creative outlets into her thesis, as she had incorporated creative writing into her own dissertation.

Around Vancouver

When asked about her favorite spots around Vancouver, Aneet shared that one of her favorite peaceful getaways is New Brighton Beach near Powell Street.

Another favorite spot is Main Street, particularly Caffe Artigiano. She might often be spotted browsing at a nearby bookstore before settling in to study at Caffe Artigiano with one of their delicious oat milk chai lattes. Aneet also enjoys immersing herself in Vancouver’s live music scene and appreciates the diverse range of local artists and the vibrant energy of the music scene.

Aneet’s Research and Experience with EDST

Aneet’s primary focus is on education policy research, specifically delving into anti-racism policy through an anti-colonial lens. Her thesis, titled “Anti-Colonial Content Analysis of Surrey School District’s Racial Equity Strategic Plan,” will examine how policy production impacts students, teachers, and communities. Her research is driven by a desire to challenge the status quo and advocate for anti-colonialism in education, aiming to create inclusive spaces where diverse voices are valued and heard.

As Aneet reflects on her journey, she’s grateful for the supportive community and the diverse perspectives she’s encountered in her time with EDST.

Thanks to Aneet for sharing her story!


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This blog post was the second in a series of interviews with EDST student representatives. Click here to learn more about EDST’s committees and opportunities to get involved.

Are you a student representative interested in being featured on the EDST blog? Click here to reach out to our blog editor, Jessica Lussier.


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Navigating Education and Community: An interview with Silas Krabbe

This post is the first in a series of interviews with EDST student representatives.

Banner that reads "EDST Student Rep: Silas Krabbe"

Silas Krabbe (he/him/his) is a PhD student in UBC’S Educational Studies department. Silas was born and raised in Calgary, AB, but moved to Fraser Valley in 2007 for college. In 2013 he moved to Vancouver to begin his graduate studies, and in fall of 2019 he joined EDST to earn his MEd in SCPE (Society, Culture and Politics in Education).

In 2021 Silas rejoined EDST to begin his PhD in Educational Studies.

Clipart of document with magnifying glass

His research interests include violence, pedagogy, and philosophy of education. Some of his recent work includes:

In addition to these recent publications, Silas is currently co-editing a special issue on “antifacist education” for the journal Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies.

Silas currently serves as a GAA in the department, as well as the GAA research representative on the Graduate Programs Advisory and Curriculum Committee (GPACC). He chose to become an EDST representative to gain a better understanding of the department, and to learn more about where the department is heading.

Typically meeting once a month, the GPACC advises on all matters related to graduate education within EDST. Members review, advise, and assess the department’s educational philosophy, and curriculum development, as well as coordinate student enrolment, and organize student orientation and graduation activities.

For example, Silas shared that currently the GPACC is processing course approvals and reviewing syllabi for the summer terms. The other current discussion taking place in the committee is the topic of how many future courses ought to be offered in online, hybrid, and in-person modalities.

“One goal I try and keep in mind as a student rep is trying to consider how the decisions being made will effect the experience of EDST students in terms of having something of a learning community throughout their course of study.”

Starting his PhD program in the fall of 2021, Silas understands the importance of learning communities for EDST students, and shares:

"This goal is rooted in my own belief that education is best done with others and not in isolation.”

Beyond academia, on winter weekends Silas can found downhill skiing, while in the summers his free time is spent sailing around the Salish sea. Around the city, Silas might be found taking a walk through Pacific Spirit Park or at a Vancouver bar called “The Narrow.”


Interested in learning more about Silas’ work?

Silas will be presenting at EDST’s Doctoral Colloquium series, 

12-1:30pm, Thursday, January 11th.

Click below to RSVP for this catered event!

Banner describing Silas' Doctoral Colloquium event


Clipart of question and answer bubbles

This blog post was the first in a series of interviews with EDST student representatives. Click here to learn more about EDST’s committees and opportunities to get involved.

Are you a student representative interested in being featured on the EDST blog? Click here to reach out to our blog editor, Jessica Lussier.


EDST Blog: Call for Papers (and Introduction to Editorial Board)

The EDST blog editorial board is pleased to invite EDST students, staff, and faculty to submit contributions to the EDST blog.

 

Department head André Mazawi described EDST as our “common home,” “in the sense of a space we all share in the pursuit of our work, studies, and contributions.”

The EDST blog serves as an extension of this shared space, where authors can:

  • Start conversations and raise questions
  • Reflect on university life and student issues
  • Discuss others subjects within education

Watch the video below for more details, then scroll to the bottom to this post to find the full call, and introduction to the blog’s new editorial board!

Questions about submissions can be directed to Jessica Lussier at edstblog.editor@ubc.ca.

Call For Papers


 

Introducing the Editorial Board


Many thanks to previous GAAs and EDST students who volunteered as the blog’s editorial team. The blog warmly welcomes Silas Krabbe and Yotam Ronen as new members of the editorial board.

 

Silas Krabbe is a PhD student in EDST working within the philosophy of education. His research attempts to understand unintended cognitive violence between the educator and educatee, through the lenses of race, phenomenology, and theology. When off campus, you probably won’t find him; he’ll be out skiing or sailing with his wife and daughter.

 

Yotam Ronen is a PhD candidate at EDST. His research focuses on how radical educators during the early 20th century used education to realize their ideology of a free, egalitarian, and cooperative utopian society. He is also a bass player, currently playing live all over Vancouver with the Sam Rocha Trio, and bakes way too much bread.

 

Questions around Community


  • How are communities formed?
  • What does it mean to live, work, learn, or educate in community?
  • What goals might educative communities hold in common?
  • How does the research you are currently doing shape how you understand community

 

EDST students, faculty and staff are invited to share further questions they’d like to pose around the theme of “community” below in a shared Padlet.
Instructions to post: You can click on the plus sign to add a message, your name and a visual if you wish.