Coming in From the Cold: Sites of Black Educational Resistance in Edmonton, Alberta

  • Author / Creator
    Mason, Alleson, Alecia
  • Black community-based education programs play a critical role in helping Black students’ educational development. Yet work done in these programs and their perceived educational contributions are under-researched in the Canadian context. This study used qualitative case study methodology to examine the experiences of current students, alumni, parents, volunteers and workers within an African/African-Caribbean organization that offers supplementary education programs to address the educational development of Black students in the context of the systemic challenges they face in the Canadian K-12 mainstream education system. The study was guided by the following research questions:

    1. What difficulties and marginalizations do Black youths face in navigating the K-12 education system in Edmonton, Alberta?
    2. How do CCACH’s current students, alumni, parents, volunteers, and workers describe the role of its educational programs in the context of the marginalization of Black students in the mainstream K-12 education system?
    3. How do CCACH’s current students, alumni, parents, volunteers, and workers perceive the organization’s impact in relation to addressing the systemic challenges that Black students face in the K-12 education system?
    4. How does CCACH resist marginalization of Black communities? Data collection methods included participant observation, semi-structured individual interviews with a total of 25 participants consisting of selected students, their parents, and program staff, and a short survey to capture the demographic characteristics of participants (Creswell & Poth, 2018; Merriam & Tisdell, 2016; Simons, 2009). In addition, I analyzed institutional records such as AfroQuiz study materials and Alberta’s official curriculum documents for public schools. All data collected was analyzed thematically with the aim of increasing my understanding of the students’ experiences with the programs and any benefits students derive from them. Using Critical Race Theory and Community Cultural Wealth as theoretical frameworks, I found that Black students faced significant challenges in schools including low teacher expectations, being disproportionately subjected to harsh disciplinary measures, the exclusion of Black history and culture from the curriculum, racist bullying from school peers, and lacked a sense of belonging in schools. My analysis shows the creation of Black African diasporic identities in Alberta and vibrant Black communities. I demonstrate how resistant, navigational, social, familial, and aspirational capital were cultivated and used by members of Black communities in Edmonton. The use of these five types of capital contributed positively to Black Albertan K-12 students’ academic development and prepared them for postsecondary studies and for middle class professions. The study provides insight into challenges faced by Black people, community activism, and the building of Black communities in Alberta.  

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.