The Consulate General of India in Toronto has written a scathing letter to the Government of Ontario expressing its anguish over Canadian schools teaching hateful anti-India curriculum to their students and warned that such polarising narrative against Indians could harm peaceful relations between India and Canada.
In a strongly worded letter dated March 11, the Consulate General of India, representing the Indian government and Indian interests in Canada, said that they were approached by several Canadians of Indian heritage and Indian nationals who have children studying in various schools in Ontario recently. The parents raised serious concerns that some schools are using biased and factually incorrect study material as part of their academic curriculum, the letter of Consulate General said.
The Consulate General of India said that fall elementary and high schools in Peel, Toronto and York region are pushing study material that is based on disinformation and may possibly create hatred against India, Indian nationals and people with Indian heritage. The Indian government accused the Ontario schools of propagating misinformation about the recent farm protests through its school curriculum and added that such attempts could disrupt peaceful relations between Indian communities in Ontario.
“The Consulate General would further like to state that it considers this incident to be extremely serious and views it as a conspiracy to sabotage the goodwill and warm, friendly relations between India and Canada by inimical entities to further their own nefarious agenda,” the letter says.
The Consulate General also conveyed that it has been informed by the parents that their children have been deeply disturbed and have also been subject to bullying and verbal harassment by students of other ethnicities in the school.
“The trauma of being subjected to false and hateful content about the country of their origin, coupled with harassment by their peers, has negatively impacted their mental health and well-being,” the letter accessed by OpIndia said.
Further, the Consulate General has been informed that such material is employed for education in these classes makes false and factually incorrect claims about some current developments in India and seeks to misrepresent these developments to impressionable minds with the ulterior intent of creating hatred, generating animosity and polarizing the Indian heritage communities along sectarian lines.
The consulate urged Ontario’s Office of International Relations and Protocol to alert the Canadian authorities to investigate what’s being taught and “to sensitize” the school boards so they immediately remove such hateful and factually incorrect material from their curriculum so as to spare the children being exposed to it, the mental trauma of its toxic, harmful influence.
Warning the Canadian authorities, the Consulate General said it views such controversies as extremely serious and added that such efforts by a section are a conspiracy to sabotage the goodwill and warm friendly relations between India and Canada.
“The Consulate General would like to convey that given the seriousness of this issue which can potentially poison the bilateral relations between India and Ontario, threaten the security of Indian nationals in Ontario and disrupt the peaceful relations between various communities with Indian heritage,” the letter further added.
Polarising content against Indian state being pushed through curriculum, says a parent
Meanwhile, CBS has obtained the “polarizing” lessons that have stirred up hatred toward Indians and bullying against students. The lesson asked students to consider why farmers in India are protesting, what protesting means, and explain the situation from different perspectives.
The lessons taught at Ontario schools also asked the students why the Indian government is trying to silence protesters. Strangely, it includes a letter from a Canadian Sikh student saying, “the Indian government passed three farm bills undemocratically for the benefit of private corporations.”
Ritesh Malick, a parent in Vaughan, Ontario, said he was aghast when his daughter in Grade 6 was taught about the protests in “a very biased way” that sided with farmers. Malick said his daughter was offended by the other students and the teacher speaking negatively about the country her family is from.
“My daughter said she didn’t want to go to school,” he said, adding that such a frenzy environment and conversations in schools have led to bullying and fights among kids.
Malick also has started an online petition, “NO To Hateful, Biased, Objectionable, InAppropriate, Propaganda Content at Schools,” which has close to 3,000 signatures. A group of Indian-origin parents, including from other communities, have reached out to the consulate urging it to intervene.
“What does Canada have to do with it?” Malick said. “Why should there be a rift in Canadian communities, and why should there be a rift in Canadian classrooms? We should concentrate on Canadian issues.”
Following the intervention of the Indian Consulate General in Toronto, Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce met with concerned parents in June to reaffirm its commitment to human rights and assure that all students feel respected. The ministry spokesperson said they expect “impartiality and sensitivity when raising world events — we insist kids make their own conclusions, in the bias-free environment”.
Teacher defends anti-India curriculum, says she has responsibility to speak about “oppression”
Reportedly, a high school teacher from Brampton identified Simmi Jaswal initiated such discussions about the farmer protests in her geography and social justice courses this school year.
Jaswal, a Sikh teacher, also has family members in India participating in the protests against the farm reforms since last November. Jaswal claimed that she feels responsible to “unpack the politics” surrounding the events with her students, as they are already aware of the protests through social media. Apparently, Jaiswal bases her lessons on media reports.
“This is not just a distant connection. It’s about our students’ lived experiences,” Jaswal said. “It does ease some of their pain and anxiety a little bit to be acknowledged, to feel seen and to have it discussed,” the Sikh teacher added.
Speaking to CBS Canada, Jaswal said that she keeps it very frank to her students as she feel that they were looking protests as a form of oppression. “My preference is to centre on marginalized voices and identities. But if you feel like you’re not hearing a particular side, then we have that conversation,” she contended.
According to Jaiswal, the “oppressor” is not the Indian people, which includes Hindu, Muslims and Sikhs along with many other religious minorities, but rather the state.