children playing

Politicizing early childhood education and care in Ontario: Race, identity and belonging

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
Abawi, Z. E., & Berman, R.
Publication Date: 
1 Dec 2019


The Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) landscape, much like the K-12 education system in Ontario, is largely encompassed by bias-free, neutral and colourblind narratives of identity and social location (Abawi, 2018). These discursive practices, which portray young children and early learning settings as raceless and equal spaces that engage children in interactions and discussions of race and identity, are inappropriate. Education in Ontario and Canada as an entity is marked by myth of the Canadian nation-state (Thobani, 2007) through celebratory, themed, recognition-based initiatives that mark differences, while leaving the status quo of whiteness unchallenged and intact (DiAngelo, 2018). The objective of this paper is to challenge discursive norms that perpetuate the dominant norm that young children do not see or notice race and are insulated from processes of racial socialization, through a reconceptualist framework. The paper does this by centering the socialization of race and identity in Ontario, Canada’s most diverse province and one of the most ethno-racially diverse regions in the world. This paper not only disputes the common misconception that ECEC sites are neutral spaces, but also re-centers these spaces as political as well as potential sites of resistance.