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137: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion with Gail-Ann Wilson Mitchell

Updated: Dec 13, 2023



Equity, diversity and inclusion.

Human-centred education in the midst of a technological tidal wave.

Student well-being in the classroom and beyond.


In this three-part series I’m thrilled to be able to sit down with three visionary educators who are shaping the trajectory of students — and society-at-large — through their work.


A couple of years ago, I created a series all about the ‘virtual reality’ of education, having just completed a full year of virtual teaching during the pandemic. I learned a lot through speaking with different voices in education — both locally and globally — as well as reflecting on my own teaching practices. It’s pretty incredible how virtual teaching and learning pushed us all to grow and soften in different capacities.


Now two years later, I’ve been thinking about the ways in which teaching is continuing to shift in light of opportunities and challenges faced by all participants in the classroom. I can’t wait for you to hear the ideas and stories and insights from the three guests featured in the series, including Gail-Ann Wilson Mitchell with the Alberta Teachers Association sharing her life experiences and work in the space of equity, diversity and inclusion. Dr. Ana Rita Morais, Chair of George Brown College’s School of Design on human-centred classrooms. And finally Dr. Robyn Bourgeois, Professor, Activist, Artist and Vice Provost, Indigenous Engagement at Brock University, speaking about her approaches to student well-being.


I’ve asked my good friend and colleague, Nat Lumby, Interim Chair of the School of Graphic Communications Management at Toronto Metropolitan University to co-host with me. She has a passion for education, pedagogy and making the world a better place through her leadership. Welcome Nat! I can’t wait to learn more about all of these topics alongside you. What are you most excited about in the forthcoming conversations?


I’m so excited about the line-up of speakers in this series. For me the experience of education at any level (whether at home or as part of formal institutions) is about becoming a better human, and building a stronger society. At the heart of all three of these conversations are educators who really take a student-focused approach in building that humanity. As an academic I’m sometimes criticized for being too soft with students. Colleagues might say that no one will help these students out in the “real world”. I believe students who are shown a bit of empathy will carry it into the work place. The real world needs a shake up anyway. I hope that these 3 conversations will help us to highlight the strength of the student and human-first approach and help to unite other educators who have already seen how successful it can be.


Gail-Ann is a cultural diversity educator with over twenty years of experience as a high school Social Studies teacher. She is committed to building capacity in aspiring diversity leaders after experiencing racial marginalization due to the underrepresentation of Black female teachers in Alberta. Gail-Ann focuses on cultural inclusivity in education centered on pedagogies that dismantle systems of oppression. She also consults with businesses, government and community groups on how to intentionally address anti-Black racism while building inclusive communities. Gail-Ann is an accomplished public speaker that has led professional learning presentations, and workshops for many school divisions and universities throughout Alberta and across Canada, promoting opportunities for collaboration in areas of common interest. She is also an award-winning journalist on the topic of anti-Black racism in Alberta schools. Her alma mater is the University of Alberta, where she graduated with a BEd and Master of Arts in Communication.


Gail-Ann and I met in graduate school in Edmonton in the spring of 2013; almost exactly 10 years ago. We instantly connected at a meet-and-greet held the day before the start of classes and (thankfully) exchanged phone numbers. It’s a long story, but the next day, curled up in a ball in my rental apartment after having eaten bad food, she was the only person who I knew, having met only hours earlier. Without hesitation she showed up on my doorstep with food in hand, quite literally saving me that day. We became quick and close friends from that moment onwards. I was on the receiving end of Gail-Ann’s small-scale act of kindness and generosity that day in Edmonton. Now an entire provincial educational board and its staff, students and stakeholders have the great fortune of being on the receiving end of Gail-Ann’s large-scale acts of kindness and generosity.


In this conversation, Gail-Ann shares her reality growing up ‘being the only’; a young Black girl and then woman and educator in Edmonton, including sharing her experiences in school. She describes important parts of her work including her take on what she calls ‘the six letter word’; its historical context and its role in modern life. Gail-Ann shares beautiful, vulnerable and heartbreaking stories about her work as a teacher and her forthcoming role in the Alberta Teachers Association, including describing the single most racist act she’s ever endured. There’s so much more captured in this conversation that ends with a powerful, accessible next step — call to action — for educators everywhere in fostering greater equity, diversity and inclusion in their classrooms.


Let’s listen in…





About Our Guest:

Gail-Ann Wilson Mitchell is a cultural diversity educator with over twenty years of experience as a high school Social Studies teacher. She is committed to building capacity in aspiring diversity leaders after experiencing racial marginalization due to the underrepresentation of Black female teachers in Alberta. Gail-Ann focuses on cultural inclusivity in education centred on pedagogies that dismantle systems of oppression. She also consults with businesses, government and community groups on how to intentionally address anti-Black racism while building inclusive communities. Gail-Ann is an accomplished public speaker that has led professional learning presentations, and workshops for many school divisions and universities throughout Alberta and across Canada, promoting opportunities for collaboration in areas of common interest. She is also an award-winning journalist on the topic of anti-Black racism in Alberta schools. Her alma mater is the University of Alberta, where she graduated with a BEd and Master of Arts in Communication.



Music: I Care - Loyalty Freak Music licensed under a CC0 1.0 Universal License.


Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle


Episode Artwork: Canva (remixed)


Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo by Alex on Unsplash

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