Anti-racism beyond the academy: Voices from the community

Posted on Thursday, April 22, 2021

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'Anti-racism beyond the academy: Voices from the community' is a panel discussion about collaborative anti-racism work in education. Bringing together community leaders and scholars, this event is co-hosted by Professor Francis Bangou, Vice-Dean, Governance, and Student Affairs in the Faculty of Education, and Karine Coen-Sanchez, Doctoral Candidate in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa.


Event Description: Statements are not enough anymore, it is therefore imperative to work together to reassess the systemic, discriminatory structures of the education sector. Through a continuing conversation about institutional racism within academia and beyond, we will be better equipped to develop long-term action plans. Partnerships with community leaders are essential in this quest to overcome barriers in the educational system. Such collaborations can address structural obstacles with practical solutions and explore the implications of school policies. In dialogue, we can continue to dismantle colonial ways by strategizing innovative teaching methods. This panel discussion will highlight the work of community members in the fight against racism and contribute to the emergence of new narratives of import to educators, administrators, scholars and policy-makers.

Date: Thursday, May 13, 2021

Time: 6 PM to 8 PM EDT

Registration: Anti-racism beyond the academy: Voices from the community

This event is free, registration is required. The round table will be held in French and English.


Francis Bangou is Vice-Dean, Governance and Student Affairs and an Associate Professor in Second Language Education (French and English). His research focuses on the adaptation of second language teachers and learners to unfamiliar teaching and learning environments, and the implementation of digital technologies in second language education. Dr. Bangou is the Director of the research group Education and Languages - EducLang.

Karine Coen-Sanchez is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Ottawa. Her research examines systematic racism embedded in educational institutions and how this manifests in the experiences of racialized students and workers. She is particularly interested in deconstructing the concept of race and exploring how the term 'racialization' draws attention to how 'racial' identities are constructed and contested within relations of power. Her research interests emerged from her own experiences as a Black student where she observed a profound disconnect between the make-up of the student body and what was being taught in her graduate program’s curriculum. Her work bridges scholarly and public spaces, most recently through her organizing of a series of panels. 


Abdi Bileh Dirir is vice-principal of Omer Deslauriers French public high school and founder of l’Association canadienne pour la promotion des héritages africains, a Canadian association that promotes African cultures. He also chairs a group of experts who work on anti-racism in education, sponsored by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. In 2014, he won a prestigious Capital Educators’ Award for excellence in teaching and in 2016, he was a candidate for UNESCO’s Madanjeet Singh Award for the promotion of tolerance and non-violence. He is also the winner of an award presented by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade for promoting inclusion and diversity. Bileh Dirir is an active member of his community who offers his expertise to help newcomers to Canada better integrate into Canadian society. He also organizes major national and international events to promote the culture and history of people of African descent. In February 2017, gathered together Canadian artists from various backgrounds and perspectives to join UNESCO’s international coalition of artists for the general history of Africa, a first in Canada.

Tom D’Amico is the Director of Education with the Ottawa Catholic School Board.  He has over 30 years of experience in education and has had many roles including as a teacher, school administrator, Superintendent of Human Resources, Superintendent of Learning Technologies and as the Associate Director of Education.  An award-winning educator, he has been recognized with the Prime Minister’s Award for teaching excellence and with Canada’s Outstanding Principal award.  As a Superintendent, he received the EXL award to recognize excellence among members of the superintendency.  He has presented across Canada on the topics of educational technology and leadership in the 21st Century.  Mr. D’Amico is the Canadian co-lead for New Pedagogies for Deep Learning (NPDL), a global partnership of over 1500 schools across ten countries focused on practices to develop deep learning and the development of global competencies.  In addition to his educational qualifications, he holds an Osgoode certificate in education law; a workplace mental health leadership certificate, an executive certificate in conflict management with a focus on alternative dispute resolution, and a safe schools certification.

Jimmy Pai has been a secondary mathematics teacher for the past decade. He is passionate about education and his graduate work focused on listening and responding to students in the classroom, where identity and agency were key aspects of this process.  Both inside and outside of the classroom, his work primarily centres around creating safe space and building opportunities to empower student voices through forums, discussions, and affinity groups.  In recent years, he has collaborated with students on initiatives and events that advocate for black excellence and feminism.  At the same time, he also believes in the importance and urgency in recognizing and transforming teacher complicity in perpetuating systemic racism. In order to initiate and continue authentic and productive dialogue among teachers, he has led teacher working groups that begin by learning more about racisms and anti-racisms, and then subsequently engaging other teachers in conversation on culturally relevant, responsive, and anti-oppressive pedagogy. His current project involves creating a safe space for students to talk about anti-Asian racism and solidarity.

Nathalie Sirois career in education spans more than two decades. She has worked in various positions within educational and community organizations in Canada and abroad. She is very committed to developing and promoting the practices required to establish and maintain learning environments that foster equity, social justice, and personal growth, first for children, but fundamentally for all. She is interested in questions that involve the diversity of the human experience in all its aspects, particularly the many facets of  cross-cultural and intersectional issues.


See our initiative Together Against Racism: Faculty of Education Year of Action for Racial Justice 2020-2021.


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