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Racist image found in remote learning package in Brandon

By: Harry Callaghan
Posted: January 12, 2021 09:15

Brandon School Division has apologized and is reviewing home learning kits

Image: page from Brandon school remote learning kit - Grace Masse

Brandon School Division is reviewing its remote-learning materials after a kit containing racist imagery was discovered.

Grace Masse, who's Cree, posted an image to social media that depicts a cartoon figure of an Indigenous person, with a bow and arrow, chasing two people in a covered wagon. She says it was in her son's math worksheet from J.R. Reid School.

The division has apologized and says it's removed the offfensive materials.

In an email, Brandon School Division outlined the processes for remote learning and how the offensive image ended up in a home school package. 

"In early December, Manitoba Education announced a mandated remote learning period for students in Grades 7-12 and offered remote learning for any Kindergarten to Grade 6 students who chose not to return to in-class learning after the holiday break.  

Brandon School Division recognized the desire of parents to have remote learning materials that made it easy for them to facilitate their child's learning.  The Division also recognized the teachers' concerns regarding planning and delivering both remote and in-class programming.  

During the two weeks following the announcement, the Division utilized the following process to support the remote learning period: 
- Surveyed approximately 4700 K-6 students to determine the number of students requesting remote learning
- Determined the number of remote learning K-6 students and 7-12 students who required technology
- If technology was not available in the home, students received a computer from the school
- If internet was required but not available, a portable router was provided to the family
- Teachers were identified to create remote learning packages for Kindergarten to Grade 6 students.  The packages included PowerPoint presentations, handouts, activities, worksheets and games.  Materials were gathered from a variety of sources.
- Supplies (playing cards, dice and play dough) were purchased for all K-6 students in remote learning to ensure that all students had the supplies necessary to participate
- Packages were required to be provided to schools in time to allow for copying and distribution to students before the last day of classes prior to winter break (December 18)

Of the 676 pages and 84 files that were distributed in the K-6 remote learning packages, regrettably there was 1 page in the Grade 5-6 learning package that contained an unacceptable image. 208 students received that learning package. Once the page was brought to the Division's attention, immediate action was taken to remove the offensive content, and to review all homeschool packages to ensure no other unacceptable content was contained therein.  Schools were asked to send parents a letter apologizing and asking for the page to be removed.

Unfortunately, a full review of the compiled K-6 remote learning packages was not completed prior to distribution.  This was due to the size of the task and the limited timeframe.  However, it should be emphasized that the Division is not making any excuses and accepts full responsibility for the inclusion of the page. 

In addition to our deep regret, this error reinforces the need for our continued learning, commitment and action towards reconciliation and Indigenous education."

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