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Teaching Guide That Had Students Match Slurs to Ethnicities Pulled by Publisher

One mother called the workbook “bullshit violent colonialism in real time.”

by Mack Lamoureux
Sep 19 2017, 4:32pm

Photo composited from graphic novel cover.

A workbook that asks students to match racist slurs to their corresponding ethnicities has been pulled by its publisher.

The teaching guide, published by Second Story Press, accompanies a graphic novel entitled Susanna Moodie: Roughing It in the Bush , which is based on the Canadian novel from 1852 about settler life. The book's assignment has the students match up racist terms like "squaw" to an Indigenous woman and "darkie" to an African American person, since that language is used in the original novel.

As first reported by the CBC, a BC mother named Shawna Davis brought the assignment to light on Twitter after her 14-year-old daughter showed it to her. The assignment was part of her daughter's Grade 9 homework.

"First. I'm livid. Boiling. Furious. Stomach twisting," Davis tweeted. "...This is bullshit violent colonialism in real time. Get this shit away from my child."

A statement by Margie Wolfe, the publisher of Second Story Press, apologized both to the Indigenous community and the Davis family in particular for the publication and indicated that the guide has been removed from their website.

"It saddens us that we have caused pain to anyone. Second Story Press has had the honour of working with several Indigenous authors, educators, and communities," reads the statement. "We value those relationships highly. We are taking what we are learning now as an opportunity to evaluate our current resources and practices and to guide us moving forward."

"More than ever we understand the importance of including Indigenous expertise and voices to better reflect Indigenous experiences."

The offending part of the workbook comes from a section called entitled "Susanna Moodie's 'Politically Incorrect' Language," states the assignment was "designed to have them 'translate' the offensive language into the acceptable vocabulary that we use today."

Wolfe's statement went on to say they Second Story Press has also removed other "other guides that contain content relating to Indigenous history, peoples, and communities" and will thoroughly review their text.

The Vancouver School Board is also looking into the context that the material was used in the classroom.

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British Columbia
Susan Moodie