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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Inclusion: Lived out in our moment by moment activities

The past few days I have been at the University of Calgary for the annual meeting of those involved in educational research in Canada. I have been fortunate to be able to present some of the research I have been engaged with and to learn from the work of others.

As part of the conference, there have been a variety of keynote speakers. Yesterday's speaker, the Honorable Beverley McLachlin, is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. She spoke on the rule of law in a multicultural nation, that is, how can the legal system protect the rights of minority groups. However, many of her comments were prefaced on a non-legal obligation we have to support the inclusion of "the other."

I was struck by her illustrations and comments regarding the importance of relationships. Ms. McLachlin argued that we have to have a system (legal and otherwise) that supports individual rights but that this system must be accompanied (or even based on) individual "connectedness" ... relationships matter.

Inclusion is a contested term but the principle on which it exists - welcoming all people as equals - is accomplished in moment-by-moment  and day-by-day activities. Programs that support inclusion, such as those that are carried out in schools, are valuable. However, their value is exponentially increased when individuals carry out the golden rule - do unto others as you would have them do unto you - in our regular interactions with each other. Fostering this culture of inclusion in schools provides a solid foundation to fostering inclusion in broader society.

May we remember this in our interactions today.

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