Professional Representations of Teaching: African-Canadian Perspectives

Faculty of Education
Portrait of student in hallway
Prospects for the development of teaching: Between the richness of Francophone immigration and expectations of integration.

Doctoral candidate Elie Ndala, who is also a founding member of the Groupe d’action contre le racisme antinoirEs (GACRAN) and Revue Voix Amplifiées, a group that promotes action against racism, opted to pursue the teacher education program at Moncton University before working as a teacher in several schools in New-Brunswick. This teaching experience then led him to undertake post-graduate studies at the University of Ottawa, where he earned a master’s degree at the Faculty of Education. Ndala later enrolled in the doctoral program under the supervision of Professor Phyllis Dalley to research professional representations of teaching from an African-Canadian perspective.

Growing up in Canada, Ndala says that his "natural curiosity and a growing desire to develop expertise in the area of inclusion, given the increase in ethnocultural diversity" motivated him to pursue graduate studies.

His research, which focuses on the legitimacy of difference as embodied by immigrant teachers in a minority Francophone school setting, draws on critical race theory (Delgado and Stefancic, 2017) and the concept of habitus (Bourdieu, 1980; Perrenoud, 1994). It also explores the process of appropriation (or not) of a professional habitus expected within the school, the identification of the internal dynamics that affect Afro-Canadian actions and behaviours, and the systemic barriers that may be in place within the school and the school culture.

Francophone immigration: diversity and growth in education in a minority Francophone setting.

In his thesis proposition, Ndala describes Francophone immigration as "a central strategy for maintaining the socio-demographic weight of Francophone and Acadian communities across the country (Government of Canada, 2018). This strategy means an increase in ethnic and cultural diversity in historically homogeneous Francophone spaces, especially as sub-Saharan (Black) Africa is gradually becoming the largest pool of Francophone speakers (Marcoux et al., 2022). Collectivism based on genealogical and cultural similarities must therefore give way to a new model with linguistic value as a criterion for inclusion (Sall et al., 2022), and moving away from a status quo (Dalley et Tcheumtchoua, 2022)."

He argues that despite "the growing diversity within these communities, in French-language schools and, more recently, in education BEd, new teachers from African and visible minority backgrounds are encountering resistance in their insertion into the school environment (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2020; Jacquet, 2020; Dalley, 2020; Sall et al., 2022). While their contributions have a known impact on the motivation and sense of belonging of students with similar referents, there are few studies in the Francophone context to understand the dynamics and impact of a lack of representation, especially in relation to generational differences (1st, 2nd, etc.) (Niyubahwe et al., 2019). While anti-racist social movements have raised awareness of the extent and severity of racism against Black people, the education sector has been called upon to do more to foster a truly inclusive climate (Jean-Pierre, 2022)."