Skip to main content Skip to local navigation
Home » Residential Schools as the Original Pipeline

Residential Schools as the Original Pipeline

The educational system continues to be a site of epistemicide- where “othered” ways of knowing and being were, and are, squashed, belittled, not valued and in some instances, erased.

In this year’s conference, Reimagining and Restructuring Educational Pipelines, we seek to explore the many ways that we socially reproduce social hierarchies within educational structures. Pipelines ensure that the social ideologies of oppression are reproduced in schools to continue to create oppressive societies.  What do we mean by pipelines? Who is impacted and how? How did we get here? What needs to be changed?

Join us for our opening panel with a Keynote conversation with Dr. Susan Dion who responds to our assertion of Residential Schools as the original pipeline- designed to erase Indigenous children’s identities, cultures and spirit by forcing children into narrow, predetermined paths meant to support the colonial project. As we continue to learn more about the impacts of residential schools through ongoing discoveries of lives taken by the education system, we simultaneously explore the same oppressive logics at play in our current educational structures. Carl James, Vidya Shah and Jack Nigro FESI faculty advisors, will speak to the many ways push out of marginalized students continue today. 

This panel will set context for the important learning that will take place throughout our conference, highlighting key themes, oppressive barriers, impacts on communities, and calls to action.


Dr. Susan Dion

Professor Dion is a Lenape and Potawatomi scholar with mixed Irish and French ancestry and was the first Indigenous tenure-track faculty member to be hired in the Faculty of Education at York. Professor Dion joined York in 2001 and was appointed to the rank of full professor this year (2021).

Early in her time at York, Professor Dion demonstrated her commitment to supporting Indigenous initiatives. She worked with Indigenous students and the University administration to address student-identified needs and interests through her advocacy for and support of the establishment of Aboriginal Student Services and the Centre for Indigenous Students at York. She was a founding member of York’s Aboriginal Education Council (presently York’s Indigenous Council) and served as co-Chair for three terms between 2004 and 2015. In 2014, Professor Dion served as the first academic director for the Centre for Aboriginal Student Services.

Dr. Carl James

Carl E. James holds the  Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora in the Faculty of Education at York University and is the Senior Advisor on Equity and Representation at York University, as part of the Division of Equity, People and Culture. He is Professor in the Faculty of Education and holds cross-appointments in the Graduate Programs in Sociology, Social and Political Thought, and Social Work. He was the Director of the York Centre on Education & Community (2008-2016) which he founded, and was one of six Advisors to the Ontario Minister of Education and Premier (2017-2018). His research interests include the examination of issues of access, equity, and inclusion for racialized individuals in terms of their education and employment opportunities, school retention and achievements. James is widely recognized for his research contributions in the areas of intersectionality of race, ethnicity, gender, class and citizenship as they shape identification/identity; the ways in which accessible and equitable opportunities in education and employment account for the lived experiences marginalized community members; and the complementary and contradictory nature of sports in the schooling and educational attainments of racialized students. In advocating on education for change, James documents the struggles, contradictions and paradoxes in the experiences of racialized students at all levels of the education system.

Jack Nigro

Jack Nigro is currently Superintendent of Elementary Curriculum, Durham DSB, and recently served as Superintendent of Indigenous Education and Equity at the Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB. He is the past Superintendent of Curriculum at the Halton Catholic DSB, which included responsibilities in Equity and Inclusive Education, Newcomer Students, New Teacher Induction, and Kindergarten. He is also the past co-chair of the TARO Equity and Inclusive Education Network and was both a local and provincial EIE lead for the Ministry of Education in his previous role as Education Officer at the Toronto and Area Regional Office. Jack has held portfolios in Parent Engagement, Leadership Development, and NTIP for the Ministry of Education, and also served as a Private Schools Inspector, inspecting over 80 schools both in Ontario and China. Previous roles also include a teacher with the Toronto Catholic DSB, a curriculum developer and administrator with the Independent Learning Centre, and the Director of the School-University Partnerships Office in the B.Ed. program at OISE/UT. Jack was recently also on a Canadian team engaged by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago that was working on the renewal of their Kindergarten and Early Childhood Education program. He is very proud to be an Adjunct Professor at York University.

Dr. Vidya Shah

Dr. Vidya Shah is an educator, scholar and activist committed to equity and racial justice in the service of liberatory education. She is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at York University, and her research explores anti-racist and decolonizing approaches to leadership in schools, communities, and school districts. She also explores educational barriers to the success and well-being of Black, Indigenous, and racialized students. Dr. Shah teaches in the Master of Leadership and Community Engagement, as well as undergraduate and graduate level courses in education. She has worked in the Model Schools for Inner Cities Program in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and was an elementary classroom teacher in the TDSB. Dr. Shah is committed to bridging the gaps between communities, classrooms, school districts and the academy, to re/imagine emancipatory possibilities for schooling. 

Sayema Chowdury

Sayema is a life-long learner and educator currently seconded to the Faculty of Education at York University where she teaches a variety of subjects, with a focus on Diverse and Equitable Classrooms. She is one of the co-chairs of FESI2020. Sayema has an interest in supporting mental health and wellbeing from a community and anti-racist perspective, participates widely in diversity and equity initiatives throughout Ontario and is committed to anti-oppressive education and learning. Sayema’s home board is the Peel District School Board, and prior to secondment, held the central role of Climate for Learning and Working Resource Teacher, science department head and teacher. Sayema is a member of the board of MENO (The Muslim Educator’s Network of Ontario), and a certified Restorative Practices trainer.

Sultan Rana

Sultan has been an educator for 13 years, and would best describe himself as a person who is “under construction”. Working for the vast majority of his career in the elementary panel with the York Region District School Board, Sultan has also taught in both the secondary classroom and on university campuses in Malaysia and the United States. Holding an MEd in Digital Technologies, Sultan worked as a Digital Literacy Consultant for YRDSB for a couple of years, and attempts to be a leader at integrating digital technologies both in his practice as a K-12 educator, and in his current position as a seconded instructor at York University’s Faculty of Education. Sultan has written resources, conducted workshops, and supported educators (candidates and seasoned) on topics related to modern learning, CRRP, equity, inclusion, anti-racism, and Islamophobia for a number of schools, conferences, symposiums, and organization, both in-person and online for the past decade.

In addition to moderating this session, Sultan is also the co-chair of the York University Faculty of Education Summer Institute (FESI) series, with Sayema Chowdhury.