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Calgary teacher who was victim of racist attack gives input for provincial initiative

Kaniz Fatima met with education minister David Eggen to discuss ways to combat racism in Alberta

Kaniz Fatima and her husband meeting with education minister David Eggen to talk about racism and how to build a more inclusive society.

Contributed by Alberta Education

Kaniz Fatima and her husband meeting with education minister David Eggen to talk about racism and how to build a more inclusive society.

A Calgary teacher who was the subject of a racist tirade while she was on vacation near Winnipeg is using her experience to help the province address racism in our communities.

Kaniz Fatima was on vacation with her family when a self-proclaimed “Nazi” verbally attacked her— the incident was caught on video— telling her to “take your f**king head towel off."

Fatima said she was asking the man—who hurls the middle finger at Fatima throughout the interaction— for directions while lost near Pinawa, Manitoba in early July.

The video caused widespread outrage towards the man, who was later identified as Manitoban Nick Wadien, whose actions were called un-Canadian, and praise for both Fatima and two women who stood up for her.

Late last month, Fatima was invited by Alberta minister of education David Eggen to sit down with him and discuss ways the government can help Albertans combat racism in our communities

The minister will develop a report on his work and deliver it to the Premier later this fall. The report will include recommendations on how the government can work with communities to address racism and promote inclusion and diversity.

“My husband and I mentioned that the reason for racism is a lack of tolerance and ignorance,” she said. “We requested he look at ways the government can increase knowledge around other cultures.”

Kaniz said as an example, she knows her religion very well, but would like to learn more about other religions.

She suggested that cultural and religious differences be included in the provincial curriculum somehow.

Eggen said meeting with Fatima is a good example of how someone might face a difficult circumstance, but turn it into a positive education moment for kids.

“She met with me and said she wanted to help,” he said. “She told me that sometimes these bad things happen, but it’s how people turn them into action moments that count.”

More than 60 different groups across the province have met with Eggen to talk about what their experiences have been and look for practical ways to combat racism and promote inclusivity.

“Clearly there is an appetite to make a safe and caring province for all Albertans,” he said.

Dr. Carl James from the faculty of education at York University said it’s important to include diverse cultural beliefs in curriculums.

“We have to make sure that we present people and beliefs in our schools, politicians and institutions that reflect our diversity,” he said.  “We have to think of how the curriculum and program expands the knowledge and information of students outside their own reality.”

If you’d like to have your voice heard on the issue visit Alberta.ca to fill out a survey.

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