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Mirrors and Windows in the Class

April 28, 2023

More than ever, we must recognize that diversity is our strength. Abbotsford, our continuously growing "city in the country," has the third-largest diverse population in Canada, following Toronto and Vancouver. The Sikh community representing 14% of our local population has a rich history that enables Abbotsford to have the oldest existing Gurdwara in Canada, built in 1911. The intentional act of coming together to learn about and from one another is a catalyst for healthy communities, where we can begin to solve complex problems and reach for the joy in education.

April is an important month for Sikhs as it celebrates Vaisakhi, commemorating the creation of the Khalsa. However, April is also Sikh Heritage Month prompting educators throughout Canada to take this opportunity to share the histories, contributions, and accomplishments of Sikhs within their classrooms. Two equity-minded educators in our district are Beth Morran at Margaret Stenerson and Gurpreet Banga at Centennial Park. Morran shares, "As an educator, I think it is my responsibility to ensure that my students learn about the perspectives of all people in our community because it builds a deeper sense of empathy towards one another, and it increases representation for my Sikh students, validating their sense of belonging."

Some eager students from Ms. Banga's grade four class were excited to share their learning. Ednit shared, "Sikh people did not always have their voices heard, and it is important to hear the voices of everyone." Blake agreed with Ednit and continued, "Yes, all voices deserve to be heard because all cultures have value, and we can learn a lot from each other's cultures." McKenzie happily added to the conversation, saying, "It was so interesting to learn about the Sikh culture. I now know new things, and it builds my respect for the Sikh community. 

Learning about Sikh Heritage is not limited to just one month. Creating classrooms that provide windows and mirrors for all our students starts by creating space for students and their families to share their stories; our classrooms are our curriculum. Rebecca Kandal from the ELL (English Language Learners) department shares, "On the ELL share point, every educator, not just ELL specialists, will find ways to support cultural and linguistic diversity in our schools." The ELL share point and other valuable resources are listed below.

What mirrors and windows are you creating within your schools and classrooms?

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Sikh Heritage Resources


CORE - Centre of Resources for Education