Mobilizing Anti-racist, Arts-based, and Land-based Literacies:

Working Together to Decolonize the English Language Arts

Decolonizing the ELA classroom

Overview of the Workshop Series

Literacy is more than reading and writing. Expanding our understanding of literacy can help us connect with the many ways that people across the planet have traditionally communicated with each other and the world, such as through diverse languages, the arts and relationships with the land. 

We invite educators, parents/guardians, and the community to join us to consider and experience how we can decolonize our understandings of literacy by making space for utilizing, including, and valuing the many diverse ways that we “read” the world. 

An important step towards decolonization starts with valuing the multiple ways that each of us are literate. Working together we can make it possible for every young person to engage, strengthen, and develop strong, diverse literacy skills. 

Workshop Themes:

  • Anti-racist Literacies
  • Arts-based Literacies
  • Land-based Literacies

Each workshop includes talks, active learning experiences, and a response panel discussion.

A fourth full day professional learning workshop is available to teachers who attend the first three workshops. 

Every young person has multiple ways of connecting and communicating with the world and each of us has a role to play in supporting and shaping these literacies. By respecting their multiple literacies, we can enable young people to value diverse cultures, histories, ways of knowing, themselves, and each other. 

Workshops (Registration closed)

Mobilizing Anti-Racist Literacies: Connecting with Home Languages 

Date: January 29, 2022
Time: 1:00 - 3:30pm
Location: Virtual
Accessibility: Closed Captioning available

We are each literate in the languages that are shaped by our communities. By recognizing and making space for young people to express themselves using their home languages and literacies, educators can communicate the importance of community connections in shaping student identities and futures.

Dr. Sonia Aujla-Bhullar and Dr. April Baker-Bell will discuss  how community shapes our languages, and the beauty and history of Black language. This event also includes a poetry writing session, guided by local poet aloT of Poetry that will celebrate our own personal languages. Courtney Walcott will join for a response panel discussion.


Mobilizing Arts-based Literacies: Connecting through Hip Hop

Date: February 19, 2022
Time: 1:00- 3:30pm
Location: Virtual

We are each literate in the ways we express ourselves with our bodies and through the arts. By including the literacies of Hip-Hop’s art forms, educators can communicate the importance of Black history and ways of knowing. 

Dr. Towani Duchscher and Dr. Bianca Nightengale-Lee will explore the power of arts-based Hip-Hop Literacies.  In addition, local artists AJA Louden and Ajay Musodi will lead workshops on expressing ourselves through graffiti art and hip-hop dance. Dwight Farahat and Rosman Valencia will join for a response panel discussion.

Mobilizing Land-based Literacies: Connecting with the Land

Date: March 12, 2022
Time: 1:00- 3:30
Location: TBC (details will be emailed to registered participants)

We are each literate in the ways we come to know the land and its stories. By inviting students to build connection and relationship with the land, educators can communicate the importance of valuing the earth and all it can teach us. 

Ahstanskiaki Sandra Manyfeathers and Lesley Tait will  share the beauty of Blackfoot ways of knowing and the importance of connecting and learning from and with the land. This event includes a walking tour that will inspire participants to build a relationship with Mohkinstsis (Calgary). Autumn EagleSpeaker and Janis Weasel Bear-Johnson will join for a response panel discussion.

For Teachers: Full Day Workshop on Decolonizing Your English Language Arts Class

Date: May 6, 2022
Time: full day
Location: Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary

This fourth workshop is a professional learning workshop for classroom teachers who have attended the first three workshops. The full day workshop invites teachers to collaborate with the literacy theorists and artist/community educators from the first three workshops to plan practical ways of implementing multiple decolonizing literacy practices in the classroom. 

Note: separate registration form will be sent out in March



  • Dr. Towani Duchscher, Postdoctoral Associate, Werklund School of Education
  • Dr. Kim Lenters, Canada Research Chair in Language and Literacy Education and Associate Professor, Werklund School of Education


  • Danni Chen, Research Assistant
  • Zahra Golneshan, Research Assistant
  • Harrison Campbell, Research Assistant

Project Partners:

  • Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary
  • Calgary Public Library
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Dates and Times:

  • Mobilizing Anti-racist Literacies: January 29, 2022 (1:00 - 3:30pm)
  • Mobilizing Arts-based Literacies: February 19, 2022 (1:00 - 3:30pm)
  • Mobilizing Land-based Literacies: March 12, 2022  (1:00 - 3:30pm)

Cost: Free

Resources: Visit our Facebook page