The Alliance of Educators for Black Students (AEBS) has a responsibility to ensure that African-Canadian students complete high school and become useful citizens, York Region District School Board superintendent of equity and engagement, Cecil Roach, told members last week at a meeting in Richmond Hill.
“We are an inclusive organization even though our focus is on students of African heritage,” he said. “We all know there is a long history of under-achievement of kids from our group and there is absolutely nothing wrong with focusing and supporting those students. If you are in education, regardless of who you are, you are committed to all kids, certainly when you know there is an identifiable group of students who are not achieving to their full potential. There is nothing wrong in supporting those kids.”
“It’s not career limited and I stand here as evidence of that. I know many of you have had to defend that in your schools, particularly when it comes to the AEBS Awards and why we have awards for Black students. Well, it’s the same thing when the question is asked why we have Black History Month. You have to stand firm in the knowledge that you are doing the right thing and having organizations like AEBS to support your work is important. The work you do is valued and part of our core business of ensuring students’ success and well-being.”
Founded in 1998, the organization changed its name from the Black Educators Network to reflect its inclusivity.
As part of its 2013 launch, AEBS invited registered psychologist Dr. Natasha Browne to be the guest speaker.
“Psychology is an amazing field, but what is interesting is that we are trained in westernized modalities which we are expected to apply to every population,” said the Milliken Mills High School graduate. “I learned very quickly during my training that this was not going to work. We cannot pigeon-hole our communities to fit these modalities. We have to understand how they have to be adapted or scrapped altogether and get a grasp of what our communities need to thrive and survive.”
Browne chairs the Ontario Psychological Association Diversity Task Force.
“This group was created because there were gaps in terms of looking not only at cultural diversity, but diversity on a whole in psychology,” said the former chair of Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre board of directors. “As psychologists, we tend to work in silos and expect everyone to come to us. If you want to work with the community, you have to go to the community. The task force was very clinical and academic in nature which is not necessarily a problem. But it still was really in tune with only psychologists and sort of educating them. My goal was to educate psychologists and at the same time get them out of their silos. The focus of the committee now is to raise awareness of the importance of diversity to promote ongoing efforts to influence social change in the field of psychology practice in Ontario.”
The AEBS recognized Nubian Book Club founder Donna Cardoza for organizing a book drive for a South African intermediate school. She spearheaded the packaging and shipping of hundreds of books following a request from the principal two years ago while on a visit to the Greater Toronto Area.
The AEBS students’ awards ceremony takes place on May 29.