When Garth Prinsonsky, an African Music Teacher, immigrated to Edmonton from their Native Namibia 13 years ago, he and his family had a tough time finding information on how to meet people from the south side of Africa.
When their kids came along, they looked hard for information that would expose the family to black culture and history. Eventually, they chanced upon the information, but it took some time.
The family’s experience is the thing that their 16-year-old daughter, Anjola Oyelami, is addressing. She attends Archbishop McDonald high School and recently created a resource titled the Black Parent Resource Guide.
It is a 24-page document in pdf format that contains a list of services intended to help improves the lives of black children in Alberta. The list includes information on culture, health, services by black people, and extra-curricular activities.
The youngster created the list while working as a research assistant under the Black youth mentorship wing of the University of Alberta. To create the resource guide, she talked to parents about the support they sought to help them and their family integrate into Alberta’s society.
The father has collaborated with many organizations in the daughter’s list as a parent, music teacher, and musician.
Recent research by Associate Professor Bukola Salami, one of Oyelami’s mentors, found that the many challenges that new immigrants face when they come to Alberta impact their children’s health. The study spoke to 75 parents of color and their community leaders, the associate professor said.
She noted that a recurring theme in each of the interviews is the way their kids were treated in schools. They were most likely to be asked to shift to less-skilled jobs.
The guide features legal, emotional, and mental support featuring drop-in sone session distress lines and counseling. Salami is hoping that they can expand this guide to address the issues of institutional discrimination and bullying against children of color.
She added that people are often baffled when she mentions that an 11th grader helped her write the guide. She noted that one thing that people don’t do very well is capitalizing on youthful strength.
Oyelami says she is looking forward to the days when others will update the guide to include new information each year.