Public Schools; Muslims; Religion; Population Growth; Foreign Countries; Immigrants; Census Figures; Minority Groups; Violence; National Security; Peace; Interviews; Parent Attitudes; Islam; Student Diversity; Disadvantaged
Immigration is now the primary source of population growth in Canada. For the year 2006, the Canadian Census reported that almost 20 percent of the population was born outside of Canada (Statistics Canada, 2007). Between the years 1991 and 2001 specifically, the number of non-Christians, such as Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Hindus, had more than doubled in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2003). It is estimated that by the year 2017 more than 10 percent of Canadians will be non-Christians. These demographic changes have profound implications for Canadian public school systems. While Canada promotes many ways of recognizing diversity, it seems to demonstrate however an aversion to utilizing the word "religion." The Eurocentric nature of public schools in general means that religious minority parents need to constantly negotiate parameters for their children's involvement in school curricula and activities. This negotiation is particularly challenging for Muslim immigrant parents. Islam is often portrayed as an inherently violent religion and Muslims are seen as threatening the peace and security of Western nations. Yet little attention has been paid to how minority parents negotiate their religious practices within public schools. Given these concerns, data were collected through in-depth interviews with immigrant parents who had recently arrived in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Algeria, Somalia, and Suriname. This study examines how these Muslim immigrant parents struggle within the public schools to negotiate the continuity of their Islamic practices and how they counteract their own marginality as immigrants, a marginality often connected with other sites of oppression such as race and gender. (Contains 3 notes.)
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