LEVY: York U’s act of extreme pandering is doing no favours for school kids
LEVY: York U’s act of extreme pandering is doing no favours for school kids

The number of Indigenous residents in Ontario amounts to less than 1% – .8% to be exact.

But in an act of extreme virtue signaling and pandering to a few, York University is now offering a Bachelor of Education degree that specializes in Waaban Indigenous Education.

To make matters worse – and further proof that those who oversee our education system are determined to dumb down standards – Indigenous candidates will be able to apply even if they only have a high school diploma.

Those without a university degree – the standard prerequisite to get into teachers training – will be eligible to teach primary-junior grades (Grades K-6) once they complete the Waaban studies, the York University documents state.

Non-Indigenous applicants must have a university degree, however, along with knowledge of Indigenous language, history, culture, experiences and perspectives, York U materials say.

Waaban is an Anishinaabe word which means “it is tomorrow.”

According to York U, the name represents the university’s commitment to a holistic program that “acknowledges the impacts of colonialism” and uses ancestral teachers and contemporary leaders to return Indigenous futures to Indigenous hands.

Here I thought the Canadian government was already committed to Indigenous self-government.

“Waaban Indigenous Teacher Education will educate a new generation of teachers prepared to address the needs of First Nations, Metis and Inuit students, families and communities,” says the York U document.

When the next set of applicants commence in May 2023 they will learn such courses as Teaching for Diverse and Equitable Classrooms in Ontario and Inclusive Education along with the standard Language and Literacy, Math, Science and Technology, Phys Ed, Social Studies and Culture, all with a focus on Indigenous education.

They will also have opportunities to learn from and with Indigenous educators, the course materials say.

The standard practicum placements (student teaching) will occur in Toronto District School Board (TDSB) public and Catholic schools, in the York Region public and Catholic boards, along with a few other “woke” school boards including Peel and Hamilton-Wentworth.

They must also complete community practicum placements but there is no mention of whether that will be with a native organization or even on a reserve, which would make sense to me.

The program, a two-year condensed degree in collaboration with the TDSB Indigenous Education Centre (of course), will be offered at the Kapapamahchakwew–Wandering Spirit School of Toronto.

This is a TDSB school where First Nations children can learn about Anishinaabe cultural traditions in a “nurturing caring environment,” says the TDSB description on the school.

Bachelor of Education (BEd) – Waaban Indigenous Teacher Education | (yorku.ca)

The program was developed by Susan Dion, the inaugural associate v-p of Indigenous initiatives in York’s education faculty.

She is described as a Lenape and Potawatomi scholar and the first Indigenous tenure-track faculty member hired by York’s faculty of education.

Originally from Oklahoma and Delaware, Lenape natives are also located in Canada, mostly in southwestern Ontario.

Potawatomi natives are situated in the Great Lakes region.

According to the York U education faculty, this is a response to the Truth and Reconciliation report – just like the mandatory Grade 11 Indigenous English course recently approved by the TDSB for all of its schools.

Once again, I have no issue with teachers obtaining some background in Indigenous education but it should be a training course over a few days when teachers are off for the summer – not a full degree. 

The degree reeks of favoritism and selectively – particularly the criteria to apply. 

Are professors in the York University faculty of education feeling so guilty post Truth and Reconciliation that they don’t even care if applicants have the proper education credentials?

Just as long as they’re Indigenous, academics don’t matter?

But they do matter. These are would-be teachers of vulnerable young kids.

Cursive handwriting is a thing of the past and Canadian kids raised on iPhones, tablets and video games now print their names like English is their second language.

I fear we will soon have a whole generation of kids who won’t be able to spell, add and subtract and certainly not be able to express themselves eloquently in writing.

However, they will know all about colonialism, white supremacy, oppression and understand who are victims and who are not.

Institutes of higher learning like York University are doing our school kids no favours.