The theme of the 16th Annual EGSS conference is Culture and Community in Canada: Education for All. The goal of the 2017 Conference is to raise awareness about the challenges and barriers to fostering integration and inclusivity in the Canadian educational context, by drawing from pedagogical, psychological, sociocultural, and health perspectives.
This theme will serve as an avenue to highlight research concerning various cultural and community groups’ experiences within the Canadian educational context, through a lens of social justice and advocacy, informed by evidence-based research. Some examples of cultural or community groups of all ages which face unique challenges relating to education include, but are not limited to, the Indigenous peoples of Canada; immigrants, refugees, and other visible or cultural minorities; second-language learners; LGBTQ and gender-diverse communities; and individuals with physical health issues or disabilities, developmental and learning disabilities, or mental health challenges.
We provide some specific examples of current issues faced in the pursuit of “education for all”, and invite submissions of research related to understanding some aspect of the educational and related challenges and barriers faced by various diverse and/or marginalized groups (not limited to those described here), or which reflects attempts to promote access and inclusion within or outside of the classroom.
Self-determination and the right to culturally-sensitive education for Indigenous peoples. The injustices and harms experienced by the Indigenous Peoples of Canada within Canadian residential schools remain ever-present, and continue to impact children and families across generations. For example, individuals with a family member who attended residential schools experience higher rates of psychological distress and suicide, and lower rates of school success, compared to those who did not (for a review, see Bombay, Matheson, & Anisman, 2013). Further, little has been done to modify curricula to include history and teachings that represent diverse perspectives for the majority of children attending public (off or on reservation) schools (Hickling-Hudson & Ahlquist, 2003), although attempts to promote self-esteem, cultural identity, and trust can enhance Indigenous students’ academic engagement and achievement (Stephens, Fryberg, Markus, & Johnson, 2012).
Addressing the needs of learners from diverse cultures and communities. An educational setting that fosters inclusivity, represents diverse learning backgrounds and styles, and is free from discrimination concerns all learners, including individuals from diverse and marginalized backgrounds. This includes immigrants, various minority groups, and individuals from the LGBTQ communities, each of which may have unique experiences in pursuing education. For example, many students from immigrant and culturally-diverse families strive to receive post-secondary education in Canada (Krahn &, Taylor, 2005), but face significant challenges such as language barriers, Eurocentric curricula, varying expectations from teachers, conflicting cultural values, and discrimination (Gosh, 2000; Kilbride, 2000; Monroe, 2005). Furthermore, immigrants whose educational and professional credentials are not recognized and who are therefore required to go back to school or work in an unrelated field may experience significant stress or hardship (Guo, 2009). Additionally, many individuals from LGBTQ communities, and in particular, individuals who experience a “double minority” (i.e., LGBTQ individuals from visible minority backgrounds; Balsam, Molina, Beadnell, Simoni, & Walters, 2011) continue to face discrimination, victimization and bullying at school (Kosciw, Diaz, & Greytak, 2008), which has significant impacts on mental health, available peer and family support, and academic performance (Williams, Connolly, Pepler, & Craig, 2005). Despite these challenges, promotion of diversity of culture and community in inclusive and accessible education can promote a greater sense of wellbeing and belonging in minority and LGBTQ youth (Correa-Velez, Gifford, Barnett, 2010; Gosh, 2000; Wells, 2008; Lee, 2002).
Promoting inclusivity in education for students with physical, mental health, or developmental disabilities. Although the practice of inclusive education is becoming more common in schools across Canada, its implementation is often difficult due to financial limitations, inadequate awareness regarding the benefits of inclusive education, and insufficient training on methods for accommodating the needs of various populations (Dworet & Bennett, 2002). Yet, the academic, mental health, and social well-being for individuals with various special needs, including those with physical, developmental, or learning disabilities, is positively affected by education alongside their peers (Allen & Cowdery, 2014). For example, when societal, financial, and family barriers to accessibility are remediated, the participation of individuals with disabilities in physical activities promotes a sense of inclusion, increased physical functioning and psychological well-being (Murphy & Carbone, 2008). Additionally, the prevalence of mental health problems is becoming more severe, particularly in high school and higher education (Hunt & Eisenburg, 2010), and many students with mental health problems experience barriers to seeking help due to a lack of administrative support, awareness of mental health or accessibility resources, or stigma (Storrie, Ahern, & Tuckett, 2010). As access to mental health services, reducing social isolation and creating safe spaces, physical exercise, and a healthy diet can all be highly effective in promoting overall wellbeing as well as academic success (Wilkinson & Marmot, 2003), increased efforts toward promoting awareness of and access to these resources are greatly needed.
Through this 16th annual conference, we aim to provide an academic forum for broadening perspectives on diversity in education, increasing meaningful dialogue, encouraging interdisciplinary collaborations, and fostering a sense of community within the Faculty of Education and with other faculties and universities, through the translation and dissemination of student-led knowledge to peers, researchers, and key stakeholders. Accordingly, we request that conference submissions be relevant to some aspect of the conference theme, or can be applied to research or practice in education more broadly.
– EGSS Conference Committee 2016-2017
Allen, E. K., &Cowdery, G. E. (2014). The Exceptional Child: Inclusion in Early Childhood Education. Cengage Learning.
Balsam, K. F., Molina, Y., Beadnell, B., Simoni, J., & Walters, K. (2011). Measuring multiple minority stress: the LGBT People of Color Microaggressions Scale. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 17(2), 163-174.
Correa-Velez, I., Gifford, S. M., & Barnett, A. G. (2010). Longing to belong: Social inclusion and wellbeing among youth with refugee backgrounds in the first three years in Melbourne, Australia. Social Science &Medicine, 71(8), 1399-1408.
Dworet, D., & Bennett, S. (2002). A view from the north: Special education in Canada. Teaching Exceptional Children, 34(5), 22.
Ghosh, R. (2000). Identity and social integration: girls from a minority ethno-cultural group in Canada. McGill Journal of Education, 35(3), 279-296.
Guo, S. (2009). Difference, deficiency, and devaluation: Tracing the roots of non-recognition of foreign credentials for immigrant professionals in Canada. The Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 22(1), 37-52.
Hickling‐Hudson, A., & Ahlquist, R. (2003). Contesting the curriculum in the schooling of Indigenous children in Australia and the United States: From Eurocentrism to culturally powerful pedagogies. Comparative Education Review, 47(1), 64-89.
Hunt, J., & Eisenberg, D. (2010). Mental health problems and help-seeking behavior among college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46(1), 3-10.
Kilbride, K. (2000). A review of the literature on the human, social and cultural capital of immigrant children and their families with implications for teacher education. CERIS Working Paper No. 13.
Kosciw, J. G., Diaz, E. M., &Greytak, E. A. (2008). The 2007 national school climate survey: Th experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.
Krahn, H., & Taylor, A. (2005). Resilient teenagers: Explaining the high educational aspirations of visible-minority youth in Canada. Journal of International Migration and Integration/Revue de l’integration et de la migration internationale, 6(3-4), 405-434.
Lee, C. (2002). The impact of belonging to a high school gay/straight alliance. The High School Journal, 85(3), 13-26.
Monroe, C. R. (2005). Understanding the discipline gap through a cultural lens: Implications for the education of African American students. Intercultural Education, 16(4), 317-330.
Murphy, N. A., & Carbone, P. S. (2008). Promoting the participation of children with disabilities in sports, recreation, and physical activities. Pediatrics, 121(5), 1057-1061.
Stephens, N. M., Fryberg, S. A., Markus, H. R., Johnson, C. S., &Covarrubias, R. (2012). Unseen disadvantage: how American universities’ focus on independence undermines the academic performance of first-generation college students. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(6), 1178.
Storrie, K., Ahern, K., &Tuckett, A. (2010). A systematic review: students with mental health problems—a growing problem. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 16(1), 1-6.
Wells, K. (2008). Generation Queer: Sexual Minority Youth and Canadian Schools. Education Canada, 48(1), 18-23.
Williams, T., Connolly, J., Pepler, D., & Craig, W. (2005). Peer victimization, social support, and psychosocial adjustment of sexual minority adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34(5), 471-482.
Wilkinson, R. G., & Marmot, M. G. (2003). Social determinants of health: the solid facts. World Health Organization.