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How can we support children without recognizing their unique backgrounds?

posted Jun 22, 2018, 8:10 AM by Ontario South

My name is Olivia, and I am the communication officer for RSEKN’s Southern Regional team. Over the last year, equity in education has become increasingly important to me. I am completing my first year of my PhD in School and Applied Child Psychology. That long program title means I am training to become a psychologist, working with children and adolescents in a variety of settings including the school environment. As a school and child psychologist, I will be working with children from various backgrounds, supporting them in their social, emotional and academic well-being. Throughout my learning, it is clear that assessment and intervention are not one size fits all. In order to provide each child and family with the best support, we must first consider who they are and learn their story. 

I have learned the importance of preparing each child in a way that best suits them and their needs. For example, when I received a referral for a child who had recently moved to Canada, I explored their culture to contextualize their lens, which both taught me more and helped me better understand the child. With this approach, I can better support and promote youth in a way that reminds them that they are valued. This same method should apply in all areas of my work. 

When we work with children, we must learn about what is going on in their lives in order to better support them. Classrooms were structured so that every child had to follow the same teaching and pass the same tests. I’d like to say that this has changed greatly. However, it is apparent that this continues to be an area of growth for our society. Each child comes into the school with their own story and their own needs. As educators, psychologists, support staff, principals and anyone else engaged in supporting children, it is our job to promote an environment that best reflects each of the children in our care. 

I work under the supervision of Dr. Jacqueline Specht, the director of the Canadian Research Centre on Inclusive Education. The goal of this center is to engage in research and work collaboratively with educators, organizations and agencies to encourage and support education for all students including those with exceptionalities. My personal experiences in volunteer and work have provided me with a unique understanding of the lives of individuals with exceptionalities throughout the lifespan. These experiences have lead to my research interests, which aim to develop greater knowledge for the social lives of adolescents with intellectual disabilities. Throughout my PhD, my goal is to increase my knowledge of the experiences of all individuals in order to be prepared to provide support in an equitable way. 

I believe in the RSEKN team initiative, to advocate and mobilize knowledge regarding best practices in equity. I hope this project will allow us to open up communication surrounding our guiding principles: race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, newcomer status, language, and disability. In my position as the RSEKN Southern communication officer, I am excited to meet new and diverse people, and learn about the work being done across Ontario to address systemic barriers for marginalized youth and students. 

“A strength-based classroom is a place where students with all sorts of labels come together as equals to form a new type of learning environment.”  - Thomas Armstrong,
author of 
Neurodiversity in the classroom: Strength-Based Strategies to help students with special needs succeed in school and life

Have a look at ASCD, an organization dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading, where they support children through their interactive model “The Whole Child”.

Nitlze na nōtoca Ixchel!

posted Jun 15, 2018, 1:52 PM by Noor El-Husseini   [ updated Jun 15, 2018, 2:12 PM ]

My name is Ixchel and I am excited to be part of the RSEKN team as the Greater Toronto Area Communications Officer. I believe that knowledge mobilization across the province is a great way to engage in conversations about equity, social justice education and challenge systemic barriers that impede student access, engagement, achievement and well-being. 

I am an Elementary Teacher with the Toronto District School Board for over 14 years, and my passion as an educator has provided me with a vast wealth of experience in the areas of Special Education, English as a Second Language, and interweaving Indigenous education into the curriculum and schools. As a Nahua, Indigenous educator from Tenochtitlán (Mexico City), I believe that teaching and learning begin with the self, Who am I as an educator? Who am I serving in the classrooms? What are my roles and responsibilities towards students, parents/guardians, the community I serve? How do power and privilege play a role in the classroom, school, community?  My Indigenous teachings have taught me to acknowledge the child (student) as a whole with physical, emotional, mental/intellectual, and spiritual needs. Therefore, I need to consistently address my biases and engage in reflexive practices to respond in culturally responsive and relevant pedagogical ways of being with students. 

My journey has led to work as a Student Work Study Teacher (SWST) with the Ministry of Education where I engaged in pedagogical documentation and collaborative inquiry research with teachers from Kindergarten to Grade 8. I am currently a seconded faculty member at York University in the Faculty of Education where I teach courses on equitable practices, inclusion, disabilities, English language learners, and Indigenous education. My passion for learning, unlearning, and relearning has led to continuing my journey in education and graduate with a Master of Education in Urban Aboriginal Education and in September 2018 I will begin a PhD on Indigenous Education at York University with Dr. Susan Dion. 

I am excited, for the second year in a row, to be co-chairing with Dr. Vidya Shah (also the RSEKN GTA Team Lead) the Faculty of Education Summer Institute (FESI) at York University. We have partnered up with RSEKN to plan this year's conference titled "Realities in Data: Who counts...What counts...Who's counting?" This year we will explore "the political and pedagogical challenges and possibilities of identity-based data collection, integration and reporting. This addresses one of the four priorities articulated in Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan, which will explore the role of identity-based data in uncovering systemic barriers."  As the report states, "systemic barriers are caused by embedded biases in policies, practices and processes, and may result in differential treatment [of students]" pp.10 by challenging biases, power, privileges in education, I believe we will engage in brave and courageous conversations of changing practices starting with the self-as a teacher. Changes into practice can't happen if the self is not involved in the process. I look forward to continuing to be in collaboration with the amazing, dedicated, and passionate regional team leads and communication officers across the province to support student access, engagement, achievement and well-being. 

"If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives." - Thomas King

I recommend readers to listen to the 2003 CBC Massey Lectures, "The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative" by Thomas King.
Cuallit tonaltzin!


People Shaping Knowledge Shaping People

posted Jun 8, 2018, 12:41 PM by Ontario East   [ updated Jun 11, 2018, 10:47 AM by Noor El-Husseini ]

It has been said that, without education, you’re not going anywhere in this world.  At the same time, if you don’t engage the world, you’re missing out on an education.  I don’t mean that the only way to be educated is to circle the globe, although there is plenty to learn from such an experience.  What I mean is that ways of learning and knowing influence and are influenced by the world around us.  The world for one person may be their neighbourhood; for another, it’s the globe.  These worlds may grow or shrink.  Our settings change.  People move and change and interactions will create new knowledge.  With all the joys and pains of it, the world, no matter how it’s seen, is always in flux, which means learning and knowing  are also always in flux.  It is with this understanding of the world and of knowledge that I approach the work I do with RSEKN and with my own research.  My name is Mark Currie and I’m the RSEKN Eastern Ontario Communications Officer.

I joined RSEKN and instantly felt a strong relationship.  My role shapes and re-shapes my perspectives on issues of equity in education, and I contribute what I can to solidify and expand the content and partnerships of the Equity Knowledge Network.  I am currently in the second year of my PhD in Education at the University of Ottawa where I focus my research on antiracist education, specifically looking to contribute to the development of antiracist historical consciousness.  This work will be based within Ontario, but my previous research and experiences come from a range of locations and issues with education.

Prior to moving to Ottawa, I completed my Master of Arts in Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island.  My research focused on Postcolonial Education in relation to cultural identity and migration on the Caribbean island of Dominica.  Before that, I achieved my Master of Teaching from Griffith University in Australia.  For this degree, I conducted my research in South Africa and focused on in-class student motivation.  In all of these experiences I was using my formal education to travel and encounter ways of knowing that were different from my own, which provided me with new knowledge to contemplate.

I engage the world through my travels and interactions with people who see and know things differently than I do.  My point, however, isn’t that travel is the only way to interact with other people and places.  Rather, what I’m suggesting is that everyone must find ways for connecting with their surroundings, whether in small or large range, in order to understand that people learn and know differently, but all ways of learning and knowing shape the world.  Knowledge doesn’t exist as a universal ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.  Knowledge is created and recreated in different contexts at different times, and we must gather the courage to examine the changes, change ourselves, and embrace the world and its people for all there is to offer.    

Take a look at the TED Talk “Different Ways of Knowing” by Daniel Tammet, a resource that helps me consider and develop my own positioning. 

RSEKN Update | Mise à jour de RSEKN

posted May 2, 2018, 3:37 PM by Noor El-Husseini   [ updated May 2, 2018, 3:37 PM by Alejandro Gomez ]

RSEKN logo

 Le français suit.

RSEKN at OERSOERS RSEKN EquityPanelThe past four months have been action packed for the RSEKN team. During KNAER’s full-day pre-OERS meeting on February 28th, our RSEKN team had the opportunity to connect with representatives from  three other KNAER knowledge mobilization networks, communities of practice, and school board partners, the KNAER’s Secretariat evaluation team, and representatives from different branches of the Ministry. We then had an amazing time attending and presenting at the 12th Ontario Education Research Symposium (OERS) which ended on March 2nd!

During OERS, RSEKN led a workshop titled “Fondements pour la diversité et l’équité : Place aux connexions communautaires et aux voix de la diversité par le biais de la poésie parlée” (Staging Diversity and Equity: Community Connections & Diverse Voices through Spoken Word Poetry). Poet, Bassam and RSEKN Network Coordinator, Noor El-Husseini, facilitated discussions and activities on how spoken word can be used as a culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy to create spaces for marginalized voices to express the challenges they face in light of different systemic barriers. RSEKN also led an Equity Panel chat, featuring its three regional team leads – Nicholas Ng-A-FookJacqueline Specht and Vidya Shah – with questions facilitated by Noor E.

RSEKN also held a kiosk at the Forum Synergie 2018, which took place on March 28 and 29th! Co-director, Nathalie Bélanger, and Noor El-Husseini presented RSEKN, connected with new partners and built links to the work of other participants of the forum.

RSEKN received significant feedback from colleagues, partners, and stakeholders that are now part of the network’s structure. For example, since officially launching RSEKN, we have updated our regional team titles and priority area themes. We have now added the following 6th priority area: Income Inequality and Poverty. We also launched RSEKN’s official website in English, with the French website to follow in the coming weeks. 

RSEKN 6 Priorities New Regional Team Names

RSEKN is also excited to announce the winners of its student logo design contest! A big thank you to all those who submitted entries to help design our logo! The RSEKN logo contest winners are:

First place: Karen Onukagha - Sir Guy Carleton S.S.

Karen Onukagha






Second place: Olivia Tasset-Scherer - École élémentaire catholique Terre-des-Jeunes

Olivia Tasset Scherer








Third place: Kaleb Cardinal – École élémentaire catholique Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Kaleb Cardinal









To connect with RSEKN, please direct questions, ideas, and insights to the RSEKN Network Coordinator, Noor El-Husseini:
Connect on Twitter: @RECRAE_RSEKN / @KNAER_RSEKN

 RSEKN final 01


OERSLes quatre derniers mois ont été une période captivante pour l’équipe du RSEKN, marquée par les préparatifs du Colloque ontarien sur la recherche en éducation de 2018 (CORE) qui s’est tenu du 28 février au 2 mars! Lors de la journée prologue du CORE organisée par le RECRAE le 28 février, le RSEKN a eu OERSl’occasion de tisser des liens avec des repré des trois autres réseaux du RECRAE, des communautés de pratique, des conseils scolaires et communautés partenaires, du Secrétariat du RECRAE, de l’équipe d’évaluation et de différentes directions du Ministère.

Pendant le CORE, le RSEKN a présenté un atelier en français intitulé « Fondements pour la diversité et l’équité : Place aux connexions communautaires et aux voix de la diversité par le biais de la poésie parlée ». Bassam, auteur de poésie parlée, et Noor El-Husseini, coordonnatrice du RSEKN, ont animé des discussions et ateliers sur la façon dont la poésie parlée peut devenir une pratique pédagogique adaptée et pertinente et ainsi créer des espaces où les voix marginalisées peuvent faire entendre les défis auxquels elles sont confrontées par rapport à différents obstacles systémiques. Le RSEKN a aussi réuni un Panel sur l’équité formé de ses trois responsables des équipes régionales (Nicholas Ng-A-FookJacqueline Specht et Vidya Shah), qui ont répondu à différentes questions, avec Noor El-Husseini dans le rôle d’animatrice.

RSEKN a aussi animé un kiosque au Forum Synergie 2018 portant sur la recherche en éducation de langue française de l’Ontario qui s’est tenu du 28 mars au 29 mars! La co-directrice du RSEKN, Nathalie Bélanger, et Noor El-Husseini ont présenté RSEKN et les domaines prioritaires du réseau, tout en créant des liens avec les participantes du Forum.

Le RSEKN a recueilli une rétroaction des plus utiles auprès de collègues, partenaires et intervenants qui font maintenant partie du Réseau. Par exemple, depuis les activités de lancement du RSEKN de novembre 2017, nous avons remanié les noms de nos équipes régionales. Nous avons aussi ajouté un sixième domaine prioritaire appelé Inégalité socio-économique et pauvreté. De plus, nous avons lancé le site Web officiel du RSEKN dans sa version anglaise, et nous préparons actuellement la version française.

6 domains prioritaires Equipes regionales

Enfin, le RSEKN se réjouit d’annoncer les lauréats de son Concours de conception de logo! Nous remercions chaleureusement tous les élèves qui ont soumis des propositions pour la conception de notre logo! Les lauréats du concours sont :

Premier prix : Karen Onukagha - Sir Guy Carleton S.S.

Karen Onukagha






Deuxième prix : Olivia Tasset-Scherer - École élémentaire catholique Terre-des-Jeunes

Olivia Tasset Scherer








Troisième prix : Kaleb Cardinal – École élémentaire catholique Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Kaleb Cardinal










Pour communiquer avec le Réseau de Savoir sur l’Équité ou soumettre toutes vos questions, suggestions ou idées, veuillez s’il vous plaît écrire à la coordonnatrice du RSEKN, Noor El-Husseini, à l’adresse 
Suivez-nous sur Twitter: @RECRAE_RSEKN / @KNAER_RSEKN
Site Web

Project of Heart & Connaught Public School's Evening for Reconciliation

posted Apr 3, 2018, 5:48 PM by Noor El-Husseini   [ updated Apr 3, 2018, 5:49 PM by Alejandro Gomez ]

On February 13th, Ottawa educators Kim Bruton and Amanda Anderson presented #RSEKN partner, Project of Heart, at Connaught Public School’s Evening Towards Reconciliation. Check out POH's most recent blog about this important event promoting reconciliation. 

Project of Heart brings together community members and their families to:

  • Examine the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and to seek the truth about that history, leading to the acknowledgement of the extent of loss to former students, their families and communities
  • Commemorate the lives of the thousands of Indigenous children who died as a result of the residential school experience.
  • Call Canadians to action, through social justice endeavors, to change our present and future history collectively

For more information, visit Project of Heart.

More Action Needed: A talk with Kevin Lamoureux

posted Jan 18, 2018, 11:38 AM by Noor El-Husseini   [ updated Feb 26, 2018, 8:07 AM by Alejandro Gomez ]

This morning, #RSEKN hosted Kevin Lamoureux, educational lead for the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, for a talk about the 94 Calls to Action at the Ottawa Little Theatre. Algonquin Elder, Verna McGregor, opened the #RSEKN event with a smudging and welcome to Turtle Island. "We have a responsibility to take care of the Earth", Verna said, as she shared the history of sacred areas in Ottawa and its rivers from 4 directions. She gave a breakdown of the residential school system and the impact it has/had on our community: "What we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves", and that part of the goal  of reconciliation is "teaching children self-sustainability so they can learn to paddle their own canoe." 

Following Verna, Kevin Lamoureux introduced himself from the Eagle Clan and opened his talk by sharing the Journey of the Nishyuu Walkers. He highlighted the significance of the 94 Calls to Action as "our road map home", and defined reconciliation as "the exercise and business of repairing a relation, of coming back together after being torn apart."

Kevin also addressed student teachers and teacher candidates on how to build partnerships: "Be parts of circles of knowledge". Oftentimes, educators are not and do not consider themselves experts on Indigenous Education; however, Kevin made a very crucial distinction between two types of errors: "Doing the mistake of trying to do something good is NOT the same as the mistake of doing nothing at all, the mistake of omission."  

Kevin reminds us: "Canada is a country that began in partnerships." All Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples are treaty peoples. And when do these treaties expire? 

"As long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow." 

Contact Kevin Lamoureux at and follow his twitter @KevinLamoureux

Laura Thompson: “Francophonie en Pays Inuit”

posted Dec 20, 2017, 1:10 PM by RSEKN CRECS   [ updated Jan 17, 2018, 10:45 AM by Alejandro Gomez ]

Lors d’une conférence prononcée le 6 novembre dernier à la Faculté d’éducation de l’Université d’Ottawa, Laura Thompson nous fait découvrir le Nunavut créé en 1999. Elle nous parle de son arrivée sur ce territoire avec sa famille après avoir fait le choix de quitter son poste de professeure à l’Université Acadia.  Elle décrit d’abord ce nouvel État arctique qui partage ses frontières avec les Territoires du Nord-Ouest, le Manitoba et Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador ainsi que des frontières maritimes avec le Québec.  Trois grandes régions composent le Nunavut qui s’étend sur plus de deux millions de km carré: Kitikmeot, au nord-ouest, Kivaliig plus au sud et Qikiqtaaluk au nord-est, là où se trouve la plus grande concentration d’habitants, plus particulièrement à Iqaluit, là où elle habite. Au total, la population ne dépasse pas les 36 000 habitants. Vingt-cinq collectivités composent le Nunavut, chacune dotée d’un poste de soins infirmiers, mais aucune route ne les relie entre elles.

Dans ce paysage de toundra arctique qu’elle découvre et qui l’émerveille, ses enfants inuits, agissent tels des passeurs culturels qui lui permettent de mieux comprendre la culture, les savoirs, les langues et les habitudes. Son travail de fonctionnaire au Ministère de la culture et du patrimoine du gouvernement du Nunavut lui permet aussi d’être plongée au coeur des cultures et des langues inuites.  La loi du Nunavut reconnaît trois langues officielles à statut égal, le inuktut, l’anglais et le français dans la loi territoriale ainsi que des langues inuites, l’inuktitut, de plus en plus vulnérable, et le inuinnaqtun qui est considéré en danger de disparaître. L’inuktut est une forme médiane entre ces deux dernières. Elle décrit la francophonie nunavoise, qui compte six organismes communautaires et une école, l’école des Trois-Soleils où les élèves vivent en français, mais aussi en inuktitut et en anglais. Elle aborde enfin les conséquences du colonialisme qui ont profondément érodé les modes de vie ancestraux, entrainé la perte de repères culturels et linguistiques et laissé des plaies encore difficiles à panser si l’on pense aux problèmes sociaux auxquels sont confrontés des Inuits comparativement aux Uiviit.  Cette situation commande une approche de l’équité qu’il faut sans cesse interroger et réinventer. 

- Écrit par co-directrice du RSEKN, Nathalie Bélanger

Coming this Spring 2018: Students4Students Conference!

posted Dec 18, 2017, 11:22 AM by RSEKN CRECS   [ updated Feb 26, 2018, 8:07 AM by Alejandro Gomez ]

On December 15th, #RSEKN partnered with Hillcrest High School to support and sponsor the organization of a Students4Students Black Youth Conference this upcoming spring 2018! RSEKN Co-director Nicholas Ng-A-Fook and Network Coordinator Noor El-Husseini were grateful for the talking circle that took place, listening to student voices from Hillcrest Black History Club, Ridgemont High SchoolGloucester High SchoolLisgar Collegiate InstituteSir Robert Borden High School & Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School express ideas, feelings and reflections on what social justice is, visible and invisible markers of difference and what we all envision the student-led event to be! 

We will keep you posted with further details as future planning takes place!

What do you think about student-led events or conferences? How are they different than other conferences you may have attended? Let us know!

Throwback Monday: RSEKN @ the Teddy Bear Tea Party & Book Launch

posted Dec 18, 2017, 11:05 AM by RSEKN CRECS   [ updated Feb 26, 2018, 8:08 AM by Alejandro Gomez ]

On Monday December 11th Cindy Blackstock, colleagues from The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society, and the RSEKN hosted 90 children from local elementary schools at the University of Ottawa for “It’s a Teddy Bear Tea Party and Book launch.” This event, complete with teddy bears and cupcakes for each child (and some adults), marked the launch and the first public reading of “Spirit Bear and ChildrenMake History.” 

Written by Cindy Blackstock and Eddy Robinson and illustrated by Amanda Strong, this important book tells the story of how children stood up for the rights of First Nations children in Canada.

RSEKN @ the Faculties-Ministry Meeting in Toronto!

posted Dec 18, 2017, 10:06 AM by RSEKN CRECS   [ updated Jan 15, 2018, 11:41 AM by Alejandro Gomez ]

On December 1, RSEKN participated in the Faculties-Ministry meeting in Toronto at the Ministry of Education. Co-Director Ruth Kane and Network Coordinator Noor El-Husseini presented the Réseau de Savoir sur l’Équité | Equity Knowledge Network (RSEKN) to the group, which followed with small, fruitful group discussions surrounding KNAER-RECRAE's knowledge networks! Ruth and Noor enjoyed conversations about RSEKN's and the Ministry's commitment to working together to build upon networks and activities already in existence in universities, schools and communities across Ontario.

Left: Ruth & Noor presenting RSEKN's "Guiding Principles" at the Faculties-Forum meeting.

Right: Ruth & Noor leading a small group discussion, answering a question posed by senior policy advisor, Janette Watt.

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