Grant aimed at childhood discrimination

May 18, 2006, volume 36, no. 2
By Christine Hearn

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When children face discrimination, the response of their parents is critical.

How do the parents use their caregiving private time with the children to reinforce the strengths of their own ethno-cultural community and give them a cultural identity that will help them in the public sphere?

Now, a $700,000 federal government social development partnership program grant will finance a study of the issue. SFU and UBC, in partnership with HIPPY Canada, will use the money to see what happens in homes to prepare children to survive and thrive in the outside world.

The study will take place at three HIPPY sites - Britannia community centre; the aboriginal consortium that includes the Musqueam, Sechelt, and Katzie bands; and Toronto. HIPPY home visitors who already have the trust of the parents will do interviews.

SFU continuing studies program director Debbie Bell is project manager and co-investigator. Lucy LeMare from SFU's faculty of education is also a co-investigator and the principal investigator is Paul Kershaw from the human early learning partnership (HELP) in the faculty of graduate studies at UBC. “HIPPY recognizes private time as important and we need to study what happens in that private time to give children a sense of cultural identity,” Bell explains. “We need to ask the caregiver parents if they feel a sense of inclusion or exclusion and what does that mean to them?”

“We will get an interesting window into care giving through this study, We will learn something that helps us all by asking visible minorities what they do to raise proud children,” says Kershaw, who points out that many minority children lack role models who are valued by the broader public and depend on private reinforcement for their sense of identity.

A unique feature of the grant is that half the money goes back to the three HIPPY sites so they are fully participating parties. The money will be used to pay for training of the HIPPY home visitors and for their time spent collecting data and analyzing it to find out how the parents are responding to the racial issues their children face.

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