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Edmonton Catholic Schools

MakeItAwkward Educators Toolkit

#MakeItAwkward Edmonton's New Anti-Racism Campaign

An Educator's Toolkit: Edmonton Catholic Schools

September 2016

Recent events of racism in both Canada and the United States have sparked movements of change, bringing awareness and advocacy for fairness and equality. In the United States the movement "BlackLivesMatter stemmed from the outrage of African American men being killed while in confrontation with police, raising questions of racism.  The rage continued while 5 officers were shot in Dallas, with the senseless horror taking the lives of those whose mission it is to protect and serve.

Here in Canada we have faced ongoing issues of racism and sexism.  Over a thousand Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (#MMIW) have lost their lives without a trace of justice in finding them or those who took their lives.  Recently, Colton Boushie, a young First Nations man from Saskatchewan, lost his life after asking for help with a flat tire. 

ARTICLE: Globe and Mail:
"After Boushie: It's time for honest talk about racism in Saskatchewan" (Aug. 24, 2016)

ARTICLE: CBC Radio: The Sunday Edition:
"What the reaction to Colton Boushie's death reveals about racism in Canada: (Sept. 4, 2016)

Here in Edmonton a number of African-American men have faced racism on the streets of our great city. The latest incident happened to be caught on tape, thereby shedding light on the cruel words and actions some people and communities face in the face of racism.  While filming a public service announcement Jesse Lipscombe was verbally accosted with racial slurs.  He approached the vehicle from which the slurs came from, trying to deal with the comments face to face.  It was not a confrontational moment.  But the slurs continued.  This incident was recorded on video and has made its rounds on social media.

VIDEO: Jesse Lipscombe--
Edmonton man says racial slurs caught on tape 'not shocking'

'Edmonton man targeted by racial slurs captures 'disgusting' exchange on video'

VIDEO: Jesse Lipscombe's response on CBC news--
'Edmonton man reacts to racial slurs     

yelled from care

This event has triggered a new Anti-Racism campaign in Edmonton called "Make It Awkward".  Created by Mayor Don Iveson and activist Jesse Lipscombe, the campaign is meant to empower people to stand up to racism by engaging in a conversation.  Please open the article below to access the video announcement by Mayor Don Iveson and Jesse Lipscombe.

'From reaction to action: Founder of "MakeitAwkward determined not to see if 'fizzle out'

BLOG POST: Mayor Don Iveson:

At Edmonton Catholic Schools we can TAKE PART in this campaign and empower ourselves and each other to find our voices towards building inclusive communities and an uplifting city. Below is a Toolkit of resources that may be helpful in engaging our youth (and each other) in a movement of change. 


"It can be difficult to call someone out on their racist remarks or question their motives. Speaking up in the face of prejudiced beliefs or off-colour jokes can be AWKWARD. It's important to start difficult conversations and engage in honest dialogue about racism, prejudice, and hate.

#MakeItAwkward is about speaking up SAFELY in the face of discrimination based on race, religion, and sexual orientation, a physical or mental disability, or gender.  It's about pledging as individuals, as businesses, as institutions and as governments, to make our environments as inclusive as possible as we work toward a society that if fair and equal for all."

 - Jesse and Julia Lipscombe

Educator's Toolkit

How can you bring the #MakeItAwkward campaign into the classroom and help put an end to racism? Explore the following activities:

1.     Take the Pledge: Take the #Makeitawkward pledge at  Invite students to take part in a school pledge to stand up to hurtful words and actions by using your voice to build communication and conversation.  Try playing out scenarios where using your voice could create more conflict vs. strengthening the circle of humanity. 

#MakeItAwkward Campaign In Schools: Read about Jesse's visit to St. Elizabeth Seton School:
'Make It Awkward campaign encourages junior high students to talk about racism'

PODCAST: Listen to a Round Table Discussion on Race Relations, Racism and the #MakeItAwkward campaignà630 CHED The Ryan Jesperson Show--Guests at the table include Jesse Lipscombe (actor, entrepreneur, founder of #MakeItAwkward campaign); Omar Moallem (writer, journalist); Danielle Boudreau (advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, founder of the Memorial March in Edmonton)

Alberta PrimeTime Panel Discussion: #MakeItAwkward.  Guests: Omar Moallem (writer, author); Chelsea Bird (morning radio personality); Sean Burke (morning radio personality)

5.      CURRENT EVENTS: Continue to bring current events into your classroom by providing a platform for open discussions on what is happening in the world.  What do these events have to do with diversity?
Here are a few examples that can be shared:

6.      MAKE CONNECTIONS: Connect the #makeitawkward movement with other awareness campaigns including the ones below:
    • Edmonton Peace Festival (September 21 – October 2, 2016) – The Edmonton Peace Festival wants to bring together Edmontonians of all backgrounds to reflect on and celebrate peace, and to foster a city-wide promotion of unity and human rights.
    • Orange Shirt Day (September 30, 2016) – This campaign honours and brings awareness to the experiences of residential school students.
    • Global Dignity Day (October 12, 2016) – The aim of Global Dignity Day is to make the concept of dignity tangible and understandable for students by leading the students in a conversation about dignity.
    • Pink Shirt Day (February 22, 2017) – its goal is to raise awareness to the issue of bullying through various initiatives centered around the Pink Shirt Day campaign.

7.      GUEST SPEAKERS: Invite a guest speaker into your classroom, such as Jesse Lipscombe. To book a speaking engagement with Jesse, you can email Or, investigate other speakers who can speak to their story of having experienced racism, or are an advocate to end racism.  Speakers may charge for workshops, which can range from $150-$350. Other possible guest speakers could include:

    • Mayor Don Iveson
    • Rabia Naweer, was awarded the Human Rights Award and Anti-Racism Award for her work.
    • Renee Vaugeois, Executive Director of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights.
    • Satya Brata Das, Edmonton author, public speaker and Board Member of the Canadians for a Civil Society.  Mr. Das is a co-founder of Daughter's Day, a grassroots initiative to affirm the human rights of girls and women by celebrating daughters.

8.       CITY OF EDMONTON RESOURCES:  Learn about Racism Free Edmonton – 2012 Survey   Findings

9.      RESOURCES: Visit these websites for support and resources:

Lesson Plans

10.   YOUTH ENGAGEMENT: Consider ways to get youth involved in this movement of change:
    • Create a commercial by students for students addressing racism.  Key messages such as 'words matter' and 'make it awkward' help to unite student responsibility and ownership on the words they use in the circle they live and work in. Broadcast the commercial school wide.
    • Work together as a class to research advocates for equality, whether throughout history or those making an impact in the world today.  Generate an inspirational wall of these advocates for equality. Examples:
      • Saint Teresa
      • Martin Luther King, Jr.
      • Malcolm X
      • Rosa Parks
      • Louise McKinney
      • Emily Murphy
      • Louise Riel
      • Craig Kielburger
    • Use inspirational quotes from peace and equality advocates as messages to display around your school.
    • Create an art collage or art piece depicting your visions for equality, fairness, and love.
    • Create a Student Leadership Team whose mission it is to advocate for fairness, equality, and justice.  Members can plan a host of activities/school events in which they lead the message about peace and 'stamping out racism'.  Consider a motto or hashtag such as #wordsmatter, #wordscanhurtorheal, #lovewins, 
    • Research poetry, music, lyrics that embrace the message of peace, equality, being the best 'you'.  Gather in sharing circles where each student talks about their interpretation of lyrics, feelings after reading/listening to the piece. Create a dialogue around meaning and how words can inspire. Cultivate creative expression through student-created pieces of literature (music and lyrics, art, words, video, glogster poster, etc.)
    • Celebrate Edmonton's Peace Festival (September 21-October 2).  Celebrate YOU: create an art collage or book on the 'best parts of you' based on the book 'The Best Part of Me: Children Talk About Their Bodies in Pictures and Words' by Wendy Ewald.  Use this piece of literature to

11.  SOCIAL MEDIA:  Share your classroom activities on social media to show solidarity. Feel free to start your own hashtag based on a motto developed within the classroom (i.e. #wordsmatter or #safeandcaring) or use hashtags currently associated with awareness campaigns. Hashtags currently being used to draw attention to various movements include:

    • Make it Awkward: #makeitawkward
    • Global Dignity Day: #gdignity or #globaldignity
    • Pink Shirt Day: #pinkshirtday


Literature,204,203,200_.jpg1.jpgIn this emotional and highly visual picture book, a lonely letter sets off on a journey to find meaning. As it encounters various letter combinations, it is confronted by two distinct paths and must make an important choice. Readers of all ages will be captivated by this simple, yet high concept, rich story that explores universal themes of discovery, relationships and the need to belong, with an underlying message about bullying. Both timeless and original, Words is an evocative tale about how letters become words and words create meaning - meaning which could ultimately build or destroy.,204,203,200_.jpg 2.jpg When Stick rescues Stone from a prickly situation with a Pinecone, the pair becomes fast friends. But when Stick gets stuck, can Stone return the favor?

Author Beth Ferry makes a memorable debut with a warm, rhyming text that includes a subtle anti-bullying message even the youngest reader will understand.

In this funny story about kindness and friendship, Stick and Stone join George and Martha, Frog and Toad, and Elephant and Piggie, as some of the best friend duos in children's literature.
3.jpg,204,203,200_.jpg Have you ever seen a bully in action and done nothing about it? The kids at Pete's new school get involved, instead of being bystanders. When Pete begins to behave badly, his classmates teach him about "The Promise". Will Pete decide to shed his bullying habits and make "The Promise"?,204,203,200_.jpg 4.jpgIs there teasing going on in your classroom, home, or neighborhood? Or is it bullying? How can you tell the difference and know how to help youngsters who are upset or hurt by unwanted comments? Tease Monster explains it all in words and pictures for K-6 students. Kids learn why some teasing can have a negative bite if it's meant to be hurtful and cause embarrassment. But they also learn why teasing can be friendly and nice if it tries to make someone feel better and is not done out of spite.

Understanding the difference can help develop friendship skills and advance social emotional learning. Youngsters will learn how to react to both types of teasing, when to laugh along with it, ignore it, or get help from a trusted adult when it becomes bullying. Kids also learn how their own words can be misunderstood or hurtful and to watch what they say.

Tease Monster is part of the Building Relationships series by Julia Cook. These books keep children laughing while they learn to solve their own problems, use better behaviour, and develop healthy relationships.,204,203,200_.jpg 5.jpg How can Ralph be so mean? Lucy is one of a kind and Ralph loves to point that out. Lucy's defining moment comes when Ralph truly needs help. Because she knows what she stands for, Lucy has the courage to make a good choice. This charming story empowers children to always do the right thing and be proud of themselves, even when they are faced with someone as challenging as Ralph.,204,203,200_.jpg 6.jpg In this simple but substantial picture book by Lana Button, shy, quiet Willow silently wishes she could find a way to say no to her bossy classmate's demands, but the words never seem to come when she needs them. That is, until Kristabelle starts using the powerful threat of un-inviting children from her fantastic birthday party to keep them in line, and Willow decides she's finally had enough. Surprising everyone, even herself, Willow steps up and bravely does something shocking, and it changes the entire dynamic of the classroom.
This child-friendly and relatable story is elegantly told with honesty and heart. What makes this book particularly helpful is that it presents a model for how any child, even a shy one like Willow, can find his or her own way to deal with a bossy classmate. It offers a pitch-perfect lesson on how to stand up for yourself, terrifically aligning with character education lessons on courage. The empowering message here also helps promote individual self-awareness, self-esteem and good decision making.,204,203,200_.jpg 7.jpg Luisa is repeatedly teased and called "weird" by her classmate Sam, even though she is simply being herself - laughing with her friends, answering questions in class, greeting her father in Spanish, and wearing her favorite polka dot boots. Luisa initially reacts to the hurtful words by withdrawing and hiding her colorful nature. But with the support of her teachers, parents, classmates, and one special friend named Jayla, she is able to reclaim her color and resist Sam's put-downs.,204,203,200_.jpg 8.jpg She grew up in a world where women were supposed to be quiet. But Malala Yousafzai refused to be silent. Discover Malala's story through this powerful narrative telling, and come to see how one brave girl named Malala changed the world.,204,203,200_.jpg 9.jpg D.J.'s friend Vince has a habit of teasing D.J. and then saying, Just kidding!" as if it will make everything okay. It doesn't, but D.J. is afraid that if he protests, his friends will think he can't take a joke. With the help of his father, brother, and an understanding teacher, D.J. progresses from feeling helpless to taking positive action, undermining the power of two seemingly harmless words.,204,203,200_.jpg 10.jpg Here is the all-too-familiar story of Monica.  She and Katie have been friends since kindergarten.  Monica loves being around her when she's nice.  But there are times when Katie can be just plain mean.  And Monica doesn't understand why.

Monica is a target of relational aggression, emotional bullying among friends who will use name-calling and manipulation to humiliate and exclude.  But with a little help from a supportive adult—her mother—Monica learns to cope and thrive by facing her fears and reclaiming power from her bully.
11.jpg,204,203,200_.jpg "Your thoughts create your life!" This is the message that Louise Hay has been teaching people throughout the world for more than 27 years. Now, children can learn and understand the powerful idea that they have control over their thoughts and words, and in turn, what happens in their life.

Within the pages of I Think, I Am! Kids will find out the difference between negative thoughts and positive affirmations. Fun illustrations and simple text demonstrate how to make the change from negative thoughts and words to those that are positive. The happiness and confidence that come from this ability is something children will carry with them their entire lives!,204,203,200_.jpg 12.jpg Dr. Wayne W. Dyer has taken then 10 concepts from his book for adults "10 Secrets for Success & Inner Peace" and interpreted them for children, creating "Incredible You"! Wayne believes that it's never too early for children to know that they're unique and powerful beings, and they have everything they need within themselves to create happy, successful lives. With this book, parents can introduce these important ideas to their children. The ten concepts are numbered, titled and set in rhyming verse, and vibrant illustrations bring each point to life. At the end, there are questions that kids can answer to connect these ideas to their own lives, and make them realize how incredible they truly are.
13.jpg,204,203,200_.jpg Following in the footsteps of Dr. Wayne Dyer 's first children's book, the bestseller Incredible You! this work goes even further toward expressing Wayne's positive message for children. In Unstoppable Me! Dr. Dyer teaches children how to hold on to the no-limit thinking he believes they were born with, rather than just trying to 'fit in.' In doing so, they can learn to truly enjoy life and become unstoppable as they strive to attain their dreams. The 10 important lessons in this book include the value of taking risks, dealing with stress and anxiety, and learning to enjoy each moment. Each point includes an example showing how a child might apply the concept in his or her everyday life. Similar to Incredible You! there are questions at the end of the book to help spark discussion and to further reinforce Wayne's message.,204,203,200_.jpg 14.jpg Max was a curious boy. He was curious about other countries, he was curious about animals and nature, and he was curious about life. One day while he is fishing with his Grandpa, Max stumbles upon the ultimate question, Why am I here? His Grandfather suggests that Max is here to become the-best-version-of-himself! In the days and weeks that follow, Max begins to notice when he is and when he is not celebrating the-best-version-of-himself. This single idea becomes the touchstone for his decision-making, begins to guide his words and actions, and fosters a remarkable self-awareness. Why am I Here? Is a remarkable lesson for children of all ages about living with passion and purpose,204,203,200_.jpg 15.jpg I AM, the newest children's book by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, is taken from his latest book for adults, Wishes Fulfilled. I AM teaches kids a simple but profound message: God is not far off in the distance, or even merely beside us. In other words, we are not separate from God-we are God!

Knowing that God's love and strength is a part of everyone can help kids grow to meet their greatest potential in life. The book uses a rhyme and illustrations to teach this lesson and help children realize that they are greater than they ever imagined! There is also a special section at the end that teaches the important meaning and way to use the words I am to create love, happiness, and greatness in their own lives and the world

Professional Reading

The Kindness Curriculum: Stop Bullying Before It Starts by [Rice, Judith Anne] 16.jpg Focusing on character education in the early years, this resource aims to prevent bullying before it starts. Educators can use this comprehensive framework and developmentally appropriate activities to teach young children compassion, conflict resolution, respect, and other positive, pro-social values as they cultivate a peaceful and supportive learning environment for all children.,204,203,200_.jpg 17.jpg Safe School Ambassadors is an essential guide for school administrators, counselors, teachers, parents, and youth organization leaders. It challenges the current "outside-in" thinking that keeping schools safe is accomplished primarily by adults through heightened security and stricter policies. It makes the case for a complementary inside-out approach that taps the power of students to change the social norms of a school culture in order to stop bullying and violence.,204,203,200_.jpg 18.jpg Martin Sterling's 'hands-on' approach to building an effective learning environment was developed over a number of years and observed in action, in grade three to eight classrooms. He presents a detailed 'How To' section, with structure, planning, and parameters, to guide teachers and children on a journey of discovery towards an environment of constructive relationship. Discussion and child-created classroom rights guide and focus the exploration. He shares ideas on building effective environments; how children begin and continue to develop a classroom life of learning how to learn; how they become effective and constructive architects of their own persons. In short, how children learn to take responsibility for themselves and those around them.,204,203,200_.jpg 19.jpg Gossip and rumors. Trading in secrets. Who's popular, who's not. Exclusion. Mean girls and queen girls. Group pressure, Cyberbullying. How can a girl deal with all the drama? And how can she rise above it?

This book is full of tips, quizzes, advice from real girls, and solid smarts to help you keep your head and heart during tough times - and put your best self forward.
Owning Up: Empowering Adolescents to Confront Social Cruelty, Bullying, and Injustice by [Wiseman, Rosalind P.] 20.jpg Social dynamics, conflicts, and bullying influence every child's ability to learn. A safe school climate depends on teaching students the skills to manage their emotions and critically think through solutions to social conflicts. How, then, do you prepare youth to be engaged learners and responsible, socially conscious citizens?

Written in collaboration with children and teens, Owning Up teaches young people to understand their individual development, social media, and dynamics that lead to social cruelty and bigotry. Whether you teach in a school, a team, or a youth-serving organization, Owning Up is a flexible, innovative curriculum that respects your knowledge of the young people you work with and the communities you serve.,204,203,200_.jpg 21.jpg Violence against Indigenous women in Canada is an ongoing crisis, with roots deep in the nation's colonial history. Despite numerous policies and programs developed to address the issue, Indigenous women continue to be targeted for violence at disproportionate rates. What insights can literature contribute where dominant anti-violence initiatives have failed? Centring the voices of contemporary Indigenous women writers, this book argues for the important role that literature and storytelling can play in response to gendered colonial violence.  

Indigenous communities have been organizing against violence since newcomers first arrived, but the cases of missing and murdered women have only recently garnered broad public attention. Violence Against Indigenous Women joins the conversation by analyzing the socially interventionist work of Indigenous women poets, playwrights, filmmakers, and fiction-writers. Organized as a series of case studies that pair literary interventions with recent sites of activism and policy-critique, the book puts literature in dialogue with anti-violence debate to illuminate new pathways toward action.

With the advent of provincial and national inquiries into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, a larger public conversation is now underway. Indigenous women's literature is a critical site of knowledge-making and critique. Violence Against Indigenous Women provides a foundation for reading this literature in the context of Indigenous feminist scholarship and activism and the ongoing intellectual history of Indigenous women's resistance.,204,203,200_.jpg 22.jpg Night is Elie Wiesel's masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. This new translation by Marion Wiesel, Elie's wife and frequent translator, presents this seminal memoir in the language and spirit truest to the author's original intent. And in a substantive new preface, Elie reflects on the enduring importance of Night and his lifelong, passionate dedication to ensuring that the world never forgets man's capacity for inhumanity to man.

Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.,204,203,200_.jpg 23.jpg Moving beyond the identification of aggressive behaviors to an analysis of how and why we have arrived at a culture that thrives on humiliation, she critiques the social forces that gave rise to, and help maintain, bullying. Martocci's analysis of gossip, laughter, stereotyping, and competition—dynamics that foment bullying and prompt responses of shame, violence, and depression—is positioned within a larger social narrative: the means by which we negotiate damaged social bonds and the role that bystanders play in the possibility of atonement, forgiveness, and redemption.  
Martocci's fresh perspective on bullying positions shame as pivotal. She urges us to acknowledge the pain and confusion caused by social disgrace; to understand its social, psychological, and neurological nature; and to address it through narratives of loss, grief, and redemption—cultural supports that are already in place.,204,203,200_.jpg 24.jpg Anger is a natural human emotion, but if it isn't managed properly its effects can be devastating. Seeing Red is a curriculum designed to help elementary and middle-school aged students better understand their anger so they can make healthy and successful choices and build strong relationships. This completely revised and updated edition includes a comprehensive anti-bullying component, complete with cutting-edge material specific to cyber-bullying and social media.

Designed especially for use with small groups, Seeing Red enables participants to learn from and empower one another. Its unique group process helps children and teens build important developmental objectives such as leadership skills (taking initiative, presenting in front of the group), social skills (taking turns, active listening), and building self-esteem (problem solving, interacting with peers). Key concepts and activities include:

  • Spotting anger triggers and taking responsibility for mistakes
  • Finding healthy ways to deal with provocation and avoiding losing control
  • Identifying feelings, learning steps to control anger and exploring consequences.

    Facilitators will learn how to empower participants through role playing, helping them to identify associated feelings and recognize negative behaviors. Each session includes objectives, a list of supplies, background notes and preparation tasks for the leader, a warm-up activity, an explanation of the various learning activities, and a closing activity.
25.jpg,204,203,200_.jpg The Bullying Workbook for Teens addresses both bullying and cyberbullying,. The book is designed to help teens learn anti-bullying strategies, build constructive communication skills to help them express their feelings and manage their emotions, and gain confidence in themselves and their interactions with others.

The Bullying Workbook for Teens incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help ease anxiety, fear, stress, and other emotions associated with being bullied. The workbook is made up of 42 step-by-step self-help activities designed to help learn anti-bullying tips and strategies, manage emotions such as anxiety, fear, anger, and depression, and learn constructive communication skills to help teens express their feelings. Help teens learn how to identify toxic friendships, how to build self-confidence, and how to ask for help when bullying gets out of control.
Gender, Bullying, and Harassment: Strategies to End Sexism and Homophobia in Schools by [Meyer, Elizabeth J.] 26.jpg Meyer offers readers tangible and flexible suggestions to help positively transform the culture of schools and reduce the incidences of gendered harassment.  The text features sections that speak specifically to administrators, teachers, counselors, student leaders, and community and family members. 

  • Integrating research, theory, and practical ideas connected to issues of sex, gender, sexual orientation, bullying, and harassment
  • Defines important terms, such as bullying, (hetero) sexual harassment, sexual-orientation harassment, and harassment because of gender nonconformity.
  • Provides an easy-to-read overview of the legal issues involved in addressing gender and harassment in schooling.
  • Offers an annotated list of educational resources on homophobia, sexual harassment, and bullying, as well as a detailed checklist of steps to aid educators reduce gendered harassment in their schools.
27.jpg Product Details When you're the target of snubbing or teasing at school, it's easy to feel like everyone else has a group of friends and you're the only odd one out. The reality is that gossip and rumors hurt everyone, and often, even the most popular girls feel alone. Making your way through junior high and high school isn't easy, and it definitely requires more than the right shoes and lip gloss. You'll need a cool head and the confidence to be yourself in the face of serious social challenges.

This workbook will help girls deal with cliques, teasing, and gossip, and show how to avoid getting caught up in this hurtful pattern of behavior. Coping with Cliques also includes key strategies for sticking up for yourself, maintaining your self-esteem even when others tease you, and finding friends who like you for who you are.
28.jpg,204,203,200_.jpg Educators have come to recognize the long-term negative impact that bullying can have on children and the need to proactively teach acceptable behaviors for both in school and out. This user-friendly resource provides K–6 teachers, school administrators, and counselors with fun, interactive lessons and activities that support students' safety and well-being, promote healthy social-emotional development, and improve academic achievement.