The Hijabi Student In Canada – Racism
When my daughter decided to wear the hijab to kindergarten a couple of years ago, I felt nervous for her. I didn’t start wearing the hijab until I was in College, and although I never had a negative experience as a ‘Hijabi’ student, I was afraid my daughter would. Unfortunately, I was right. At her previous school, on more than one occasion, we were bluntly ignored by the principal, and I’m positive it was because we were MUSLIM.
The first time it had happened, I didn’t take it personally; in fact I thought I was being too sensitive as a parent. The incident occurred at the ‘Meet the Staff’ night at my daughter’s previous school. As my children and I were walking into the school, the principal was greeting all the parents with a big smile and politely saying “hello” to everyone….but, that all came to a jolt when she saw me, a Hijabi. She gave my children and I a blank cold stare. Even when I smiled at her and said “hi,” she didn’t respond. After I walked passed her, I looked behind my shoulder to find the principal, once again, happily greeting the parents and children that were behind me. That night, I noticed the principal ignoring other Muslim parents as well, it wasn’t just me.
As stated previously, I tried not to take that incident so personally and brushed it off. However, the second time was a different story! I was actually in the school office when we experienced racism from the principal – again. My daughter’s bus driver was running late, and I mistakenly thought the bus driver came early and therefore I thought I had missed her pick up time. After calling the school, the secretary advised me to come to the school and wait for my daughter there. However, once I got to the school the secretary told me to go back home, and wait for my daughter, as the bus driver was running late and was going to drop off my daughter within the next 15 minutes. Before I left the school office, I was putting my younger daughter’s sweater on, and my infant son was laughing and talking to himself.
As the principal walked into the office, she heard my baby laughing and talking and said “Awww, I hear a baby! I love babies! Where’s the baby, I wanna see!” Then she turned her head to see us – a Muslim family – and LITERALLY said “oh” AND WALKED AWAY! Let me tell you, my blood was boiling and I was steaming mad; I wanted to confront her that very moment! However, I didn’t have much time left before the bus driver was going to drop off my daughter, and I knew I had to get home right away.
I never ended up talking to the principal (as I felt it could potentially make matters worse for my daughter), but I did switch my daughter’s school as soon as I could. Unfortunately, the school my daughter was attending at that time was her community school, and she wasn’t able to transfer to another school right away. In most cases, schools will give priority to students that live within the same community as the school; once the schools are full, they don’t accept anyone from outside that community, but will make room for new students from within the community throughout the school year. This meant that the only way my daughter could change schools, was to live in another community – so we moved! Yes, I moved so my child could attend another school, and it was one of the best decisions I made as a parent!
Her new (and current) school is amazing! I love how diverse the staff and students are, and how accepting everyone is of one another! All of her teachers have made me feel that my daughter is in safe hands, and that she is in a kind and loving environment. She still wears the hijab to school, as do I when I pick her up, and we have never experienced any form of racism from anyone. The best part is that SHE absolutely loves her new school, and looks forward to each day!