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The Black Bookshelf Project aims to bring inclusivity to Alberta classrooms and beyond

Credit: UNSPLASH/Kimberly Farmer

A grassroots project created by three Edmonton-area moms aims to provide books and resources surrounding inclusivity in schools while also tackling heavy issues.

Rachel Bergeron, co-founder of The Black Bookshelf Project (TBBP), says after a racist incident with one of her friends’ kids, the moms came together to brainstorm how they can help kids and teachers.

“One of our daughters had been in a situation where she was told that she was not smart, and one of her peers was trying to discount her opinion because of the colour of her skin,” Bergeron said. “They didn’t think that she knew what she was talking about, because she was brown.”

After a few interactions with the school counsellor and principal, they found they were open to resources when it comes to teaching about racism. But the school didn’t know where to start in their search, which is when TBBP was born.

“(The school said) they didn’t feel like they had a ton of funding to allocate towards resources on anti-racism right now, so they told us that we could just donate some books on our behalf to the school and we were like, ‘OK, well, that seems like a nice idea — but I feel like we can do one better than donating some books.’”

Though there’s a waitlist, teachers can sign up to receive a bookshelf, roughly 20 to 30 books, colour-inclusive crayons, colouring sheets and more as the project fundraisers begin to gain momentum.

The group aims to start with books and resources on anti-racism written and developed by Black people, Indigenous people and people of color. Their end goal is to also include topics such as gender identity, neurodiversity, ableism, consent, mental health awareness and environmental awareness.