An Edmonton elementary school teacher who has been working toward more representation and diversity in Alberta's education system has been named the new educator-in-residence with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
But Sarah Adomako-Ansah, a teacher with Edmonton Catholic Schools since 2013 and co-founder of the province's first Black Teachers' Association, said she almost let the opportunity to work with the Winnipeg-based museum pass her by.
"I just had it in my brain that I'm going to stay in the classroom. That's where I belong. That's where I love to be," said Adomako-Ansah, who heard about the position from a friend.
The museum announced Adomako-Ansah as its newest educator-in-residence this week. The position was created in 2017 to develop human rights education programs for youth learners, both on-site at the museum as well as online.
Now Adomako-Ansah says she is excited about the year ahead.
"It's something that's new and different from what I used to. So of course, there were a bit of nerves setting in, but it's really nice to have (Edmonton) behind you," she told CBC's Edmonton AM on Wednesday.
Her role includes curating and delivering programming for students as well as facilitating workshops for teachers that come to the museum in Winnipeg. This will involve creating programs on diversity and anti-racism as well as amplifying the voices of teachers affected by racism.
She will be working from Edmonton with occasional trips to the Manitoba capital.
Advocate for Black educators
One week after the Black Lives Matter rally on June 5, 2020, she and another Edmonton educator and basketball player Andrew Parker — who spoke at the rally — created the Black Teachers' Association of Alberta. As of September 2020, the association has 75 members and includes educators from across the province, according to a press release from the museum.
Because the association started during the pandemic, she said they haven't had a chance to actually meet people — "which is a little frustrating" — but group members have been meeting virtually to get ideas, network and collaborate.
"It's something that's become such a labour of love and the time that's put into it. I'm so happy to do so because it means that people are getting what they need out of it," she said
Through her work with the association and the museum, Adomako-Ansah wants to change the narrative associated with diverse students.
"I think a lot of it has to do with being represented and students seeing themselves in more than just the stereotypical places that they might see themselves," she said.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.