Perspectives

Ranjit

The Endless Journey

I came to Canada in 1986, I had taught in England for 8 years (Physics, Chemistry, General Science) and began home tutoring through ‘Parosi’ and taught South Asian families English. I loved teaching with a passion but as I attempted to move forward in my career, I witnessed new teachers were moving forward but I did not have access or knowledge of what was required in order to qualify for that sort of support.  So, I worked harder, longer hours and put my heart and would into what was critical for me and that was mentor all students but specifically students who never had any mentors in the teaching profession.  I became a part of the National Anti-racist Movement in Education and soon after my husband and I decided to move to Canada where multiculturalism was being boasted.

I arrived in Canada in July, walked into the Peel Multicultural Centre (which was right next to my brother’s bank) and found myself working at Malton Community Centre, where I developed programs that served the South Asian community, I began supply teaching and soon began teaching in Peel.

Carmen Emery and Ranjit Khatkur

My first job was at Westwood Secondary School, where the Principal (Lynn Cowieson) had actively attempted to bring the South Asian community into school.  In the short two years at the school we had the cafeteria flooded with South Asians who turned out for the most phenomenal fashion show.  I created a Cable 10, T.V. show called ‘Insight’, gave up my ‘prep’ period and taught five students the skills to host a 10 minute segment of my show.  They received credits for the in-class component and they brainstormed topics, researched ideas, invited guests and hosted their segment.  I hosted the community and education segments. I moved from Westwood S.S. to T.L. Kennedy a School Council ‘Visionary Leadership’ Award after leading ‘School Success’ for three years and in 1995 the Women’s History Network-Ontario featured me on their ‘Women in Education’ poster. I Chaired the  Human Rights Committee for Provincial Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, I was on the Ministry of Education’s first ever Race Relations Task Force under ADM Ouida Wright. I was the founder and Chair of the South Asian Teachers’ Organisation that empowered, supported and provided mentorship and skills to be successful in Canada from 1994 to 2007.

In 1998 I was promoted to Vice Principal in Peel and moved to Clarkson S.S. where I led ‘School Success’  In 2000 I received the Peel ‘Award of Excellence’ for community development project that I initiated and led at Clarkson S.S.  I created a community garden, brought the seniors into the school to nurture positive relationships with the youth to learn computer skills from them. The seniors taught them classical dance classes.  In 2007 I brought the first ever international educational conference on South Asian issues to Canada, it was hosted by York University and we had 81 speakers and 18 or so keynotes.

This year I received the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award from Punjabi Community Health Services and was nominated for the Order Of Ontario. However, after all this, my Board of Education would not support me going for an interview to become a Principal, after doing an outstanding job for 10 years.  Unfortunately in 2009 I had to file a Human Rights Claim against Peel District School Board.   Right now I am writing a book entitled ‘The Endless Journey’.

By: Ranjit Khatkur

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14 Responses to “The Endless Journey”

  1. June 08, 2010 at 1:40 pm, AMARJIT BHATIA said:

    Hi,
    congratulation on your wounderful sucess. I believe that you are the hope for new generation.So I am wishing you that your all dream will come true.Hope i will meet you again.

    Well wisher
    Amarjit Bhatia

  2. June 08, 2010 at 9:43 pm, Susan said:

    I was wondering what you were up to! Wishing you lots of success with your book. You are such a wonderful person!

  3. June 09, 2010 at 8:28 am, Jenny Sherwood said:

    Hi Ranjit,
    Great to hear from you and about you again! Wishing you all the best in your journey!
    Jenny

  4. June 09, 2010 at 8:59 am, Lal Singh Dhaliwal said:

    Hi Ranjit,
    Your journey has been full of hardships. You have exhibited an unshrinking courage through your indomitable will and have grown from strength to strength over the period of time though your contribution to the community including teaching and learning desrves to be achkowledged and credited in a bigger way which is yet to be seen. Ranjit, you’re not alone. People may not be outspoken but are there behind you as an unbendable wall .
    Cheer up! And “all the very best in this great effort of yours”
    Lal

  5. June 09, 2010 at 12:39 pm, Pardeep said:

    Ranjit,

    Year, after year reports are published by organizations highlighting the challenges and racism that exisits for racialized workers regardless of profession. You story highlights that that journey continues. Organizations continue to like to talk the talk about equity and diversity but continue to not walk the walk or in your case walk the talk. Ontario’s equity and inclusive education strategy that recently was released in 2009 starts off by talking about THE NEED FOR ACTION, Canadians embrace mutliculturalism, human rights, and diversity as fundamental values. However, there are ongoing incodents or discrimination in our society that require our continuing attention. In fact, the Supreme Court of Canada in 2005 acknowledged that racial prejudice against visible minorities is so notorious and indisputable that its existence needs to be treated as a social fact (R. v. Spence, [2005] 3 S.C.R. 458, para. 5). Need I say anymore?

    All the best on your book as you continue in the struggle, remember Nelson Mandela ssaid “The struggle is my life”.

  6. June 09, 2010 at 12:52 pm, Jassy Hundal said:

    Congratulation Ranjit. You are an inspiration to us all.! Wishing you continued success in your journey.
    Jassy

  7. June 09, 2010 at 4:10 pm, Joyce said:

    Congratulations on all your successes. I wish you continued strength and determination to deal with future challenges. Look forward to the book.

  8. June 10, 2010 at 11:21 am, Tania Das Gupta said:

    You have hit the nail on the head – it is systemic racism.
    I have done research on how systemic racism works in nursing.
    Teaching is another profession in which (white) women predominate and yet
    women of colour face roadblocks to the top jobs as you have painfully found out.
    Good luck in your struggle.

  9. June 10, 2010 at 10:39 pm, Pam Dhaliwal said:

    All your successes are amazing!! I cannot believe one person has achieved all these successes. It is totally unfair that you have not been able to interview to become a principal. That is totally ridiculous. Good luck! I support you 100%.

  10. June 14, 2010 at 8:10 am, Kulbir Colin Singh Dhillon said:

    Ranjit you are inspiring both in person, and on paper, i truly look forward to your book being published. Congratulations and continue to make the punjabi/sikh community proud. May your journey be smooth and enjoyable.

  11. June 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm, Annette said:

    Hi Ranjit, so happay to hear from you; about your successes and also your struggles. Racism can be so masked and subtle but I too must admit, it is presents and needs to be addressed. If not for ourselves but for our children. I do wish the very best in your journey and with your book.

    You take good care.

  12. June 20, 2010 at 8:44 pm, Beena and Am Grewal said:

    Rani, CONGRADULATIONS!!! What an accomplishment, so very proud of you and honoured to know you. We wish you success on your new book, we expect an autographed copy!!! On the other point, Stunned, Shocked at a loss of words after all you have brought into the education system, All that you have done for the students, we are speechless!Please keep us posted. Love, Hugs and Kisses, Beena & Am Grewal

  13. October 18, 2010 at 8:34 am, satya said:

    Hi Ranjit,
    Congratulations!!!! and best wishes for your future.I work as a supply teacher with the same board and was hired by the board two years back.I used to get calls during my first year of teaching.My home schools hired their own supply teachers (hired by Principals) and now most of us (south asians) hired at the same time by the board are out of their supply list and get only emergency morning calls once awhile from the system.Most of us have worked only 30 to 40 days last school year and this was insufficient even to apply for EI. This is really unfair when some are getting 80 to 90 days of supply teaching,No one is ready to speak up……Where can we complain???? Why is it that there is no uniform system to call in as well as in the hiring of supply teachers?….CONNECTIONS*** How can we make CONNECTIONS?Modern society is not free from racism and discrimination it still exists eventhough job postings say EQUAL Opportunity……ATTITUDES cannot be changed.

    Satya(scared to give my real name)

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