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Advocacy, School Engagement, and Adult Education: Exploring Black Motherhood in Ontario

Education Webinar 2023

The Canadian Association of Sociology of Education (CASE) and Canadian Sociological Association (CSA) Sociology of Education Research Cluster are pleased to present this webinar.

Watch the recording

Webinar Moderator: Maria Brisbane, University of Waterloo

Webinar Co-organizers: Cathlene Hillier (Crandall University), Alana Butler (Queen’s University), Ee-Seul Yoon (University of Manitoba), Danielle Lorenz (University of Alberta), Emerson LaCroix (University of Waterloo), Gus Riveros (University of Western Ontario), and Maria Brisbane (University of Waterloo)


Advocacy and Engagement in Ontario Schools: Agential Practices of Black Mothers and Educators

Dr. Jacqueline Getfield, University of Toronto

Black mothers of disabled children exist within intersecting identity categories as they respond to racial and disability injustices in school spaces. This session interrogates the relationship between professionals and Black mothers and reveals the agential practices of Black mothers on behalf of their children. Black mothering and Black motherhood signal action and identity portraits that are unique to Black lived experiences. In this session, personal narratives of disruption will reveal how 7 Black mothers engaged with (and were disengaged by) educators in Ontario. A brief history of schooling in Ontario will shed light upon how education has developed along the lines of race, ability, gender, and class. The session addresses the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on immigrant Black families. Fuelled by the work of racialized scholars including Gloria Ladson-Billings, Natasha Henry, Njoki Wane, Delores Mullings and Paul Adjei, this session demonstrates how select Black women negotiate mothering of the disabled child within education and health spaces in Ontario. Annamma, Connor and Ferri’s DisCrit will be employed to tease out how “… racism and ableism are interconnected and normalizing processes.” And I will lean heavily on Mobley and Bailey’s Black Feminist Disability Framework to unpack the philosophical dissonance and similarities between race and disability. Tenets of Critical Race Theory and insights from DisCrit will provide the theoretical foundation to unpack Black mothering in social contexts (specifically in education and health).

Black Immigrant Mothers as Adult Literacy Learners in Toronto

Dr. Stephanie Fearon, University of Toronto

Adult literacy is a pressing policy issue in Canada. Data on adult literacy continues to highlight the dire literacy concerns among immigrant populations (Elbert & Walker, 2020). Reports reveal immigrant communities as accounting for a relatively large share of the country’s population experiencing low reading, writing, numeracy, and information processing skills (Statistics Canada, 2013; Council of Ministers of Education Canada, 2017). However, limited literature is dedicated to the adult literacy experiences of Canada’s largest Black immigrant population-the African Caribbean community. This presentation explores how Black immigrant women who are adult literacy learners negotiate and reconfigure their motherwork while living abroad in Toronto with their families.This presentation offers insights obtained from six in-depth interviews with African Caribbean mothers living in Toronto. In these interviews, participants shared stories that centre the following questions: What are the literacy experiences of Black immigrant mothers who are adult learners? How can we better support their literacy journey?

This presentation is rooted in Black storytelling traditions. Accordingly, I begin with a personal story to illustrate African Caribbean mothers’ longstanding presence in Canada. Afterwards, I provide a historical overview of the policies, discourses, and practices that help shape African Caribbean mothers living abroad in Toronto. Preliminary findings highlight the central role of someplace and cultural work in the lives of Black immigrant mothers who are literacy learners. This presentation concludes with a series of reflective questions for scholars and practitioners who engage Black immigrant mothers in adult literacy programs.