The experiences of African Canadian families with children in special education
Canada’s Black population is a heterogenous diaspora of people from many parts of the world. In 2016, Black Canadians represented 3.5 percent of the nation’s population. The Black community in Canada is relatively small. But small communities are not undeserving of our attention and focus. The special education community is also a relatively small community in Canada, when compared to the general population. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the number of Canadians who belong to the Black community and the special needs community, is minuscule. Why then, is it important to study such a tiny population? Because if society and the law considers all Canadians to be equal, all Canadian voices should be heard. Yet there is little to no research available about the perceptions and experiences of Black Canadian parents of children receiving special education services. Similar research in the Black American context is plentiful, however Black American and Black Canadian cultures are not the same. Is it possible that by not knowing or understanding this population, we have failed to effectively serve this community of Canadians? This phenomenological study explores the experiences and perspectives of five Black Canadian parents, who participated in the special education allocation process. within the last four years. Parents from Ontario and British Columbia agreed to participate in this study. Five semi-structured interviews were conducted over the course of one month, which produced detailed and extensive participant descriptions, organically developed into themes which captured the meaning and essences of participant experiences. Findings indicate race and culture were significant factors that influenced the quality and quantity of special education designation processes and services. This study contributes to a scant body of Canadian research concerning Black Canadians and special education. This and future research in this area will benefit educators and administrators interested in equitable special education services.