What Inclusion Really Looks Like in Canada

Canada. A place of inclusion and diversity. Equality and compassion. Just look at Canada’s history as a country at the forefront of inclusion in the document “Oh, Canada: bridges and barriers to inclusion”. I learned that in 1985 Canada became the first country in the world to include the rights of people with mental and physical disabilities in its Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Despite this claim to inclusion written in an honourable legal document, thirty-three years later and Canada has yet to take the necessary actions required to live up to this legislation. From this, it can easily be drawn that Canada is not the great place of inclusion that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms claims us to be.

With the recognition of inadequate accommodations being considered a human rights issue, as pointed out in the document “A brief introduction to inclusion, inclusive schools and barriers to inclusion”, school boards are now scrambling to provide appropriate, budget friendly accomodations. This leads teachers to wonder what inclusive education looks like. In my experience as a student I’ve witnessed teachers adapt lessons to provide adequate accommodations for a range of students. When my teacher is expected to tailor a curriculum to a multitude of students simultaneously without compromising any student’s quality of education I challenge the current system to come up with a better solution than cancelling special education tracks in favour of piling more work on the teacher.

I learned that in order for a student to acquire an educational assistant the child must be put through the least inclusive process that could possibly be created. Parents, doctors, and a multitude of other people in the student’s life must evaluate, file paperwork, and draw a negative light on the student’s learning ability. This process would offput any chance of a student feeling successful in the classroom, and goes to stigmatize the student as different from his or her peers. This in turn prevents an inclusive environment.

I struggle to understand how teachers and school boards can value the right to education when an entire population of students isn’t given the opportunity to learn effectively. How can we call ourselves educators when we alienate those who require non-traditional forms of education?

I also do not understand how this population of people has been excluded for so long without mass repercussions. If this is truly a human rights issue, then Canada cannot hold such a prestigious title in inclusive practices.

I often wonder what other countries are doing to promote inclusion. How are their philosophies different from ours, and how do we adopt them into western society. Would looking at alternative worldviews lead to positive change?

thirty-three years is an entire generation of students who were promised inclusive education but only received outdated education practices. Let’s change the story and include all students in the classroom.

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