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Student Profile: Garfield Whittaker

March 03, 2022
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Languages, Cultures and Literacies doctoral student in the Faculty of Education

I emigrated to the United States from Jamaica in 1988. I have worked in the U.S. as an ESL/history teacher for many years. I hold teaching credentials for the state of California and the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario alongside Master’s Degrees in Geography, Public Administration, Educational Leadership from California State University, at Northridge. My doctoral goal is in the field of Languages, Cultures and Literacies (LCL) with a focus on Jamaican/ Caribbean English Creole language education from the perspective of decolonizing the Canadian public-school academic English language curricula.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

Simon Fraser University, known internationally for its cutting edge/socially conscious/ interdisciplinary research thrusts in support of positive sociocultural change, offers one of Canada’s most respected degree programs in education. Such institutional attributes are of critical importance to individuals like me who seek to make a positive change in society.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

My research seeks to understand the origin, nature and critical value of my family’s Caribbean English Creole (CEC) language identity given that CEC is both a mode of cultural expression and a linguistic repository of historical/sociocultural knowledge. Thus, my work shows how my CEC linguistic heritage can be used in classrooms as an educational resource to challenge the discriminatory ideologies that gird the Eurocentric Canadian secondary school English language curriculum, towards empowering the literacy-based retention of Afrocentric CEC linguistic identities among Toronto’s culturally marginalized community of recent immigrant and Canadian-born CEC students.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

I particularly enjoy discovering and sharing the historical findings of my Caribbean English Creole heritage research with both the Caribbean-Canadian community and the wider multicultural society that is Canada.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.

I am gratefully privileged to have received both the SFU Entrance Scholarship and the Graduate Fellowship Award. These financial instruments of assistance have provided the critical funds needed to embark on my scholastic journey, a much needed economic support given my inability to work in the aftermath of debilitating life-threatening illness.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PROGRAM/POSTDOC POSITION TO SOMEONE STILL SEARCHING FOR A PROGRAM OR POSTDOC POSITION?

The SFU Faculty of Education’s doctoral program in Languages, Cultures and Literacies is an amazing space in which to expand one’s academic/professional knowledge and related skills towards empowering the reimagination of one’s professional identity.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?

I am extremely grateful to have been accepted to the LCL program. It has transformed and enhanced my professional identity as an educator.

 

Contact : gary_whittaker@sfu.ca