ATA Magazine

Ideas into action

Teachers working in support of diversity, equity and human rights

Leafy greens growing out of white pipes

I like to think of ideas as potential energy. They’re really wonderful, but nothing will happen until we risk putting them into action.

– Mae Jemison

Teachers are finding ways to engage their school communities on topics related to diversity, equity and human rights, sparking positive conversation—and maybe even change—across the province. Here are just a few of the projects undertaken with the support of the Alberta Teachers’ Association’s Diversity, Equity and Human Rights (DEHR) Grant Program.

Student-led antiracism seminars

Queen Elizabeth School, Edmonton

Project aim: To address the issue of racism and discrimination in our community and school by organizing student-led antiracism seminars.

The project involved work with the school’s Social Justice Committee to develop student-led seminars focused on antiracism and discrimination. These seminars, which tackled such concepts as privilege and microaggressions, created space for conversations with students to help teachers gain an understanding of the needs of racialized students and lead meaningful learning opportunities for students and staff. In addition to bringing attention to different heritage months (e.g., Hispanic Heritage Month), the committee took feedback from the seminars to positively impact the school culture through special events, such as a Black History Month celebration.

The school’s Student Antiracism Committee and staff engaged in additional learning, and plan to continue to hold antiracism seminars and events to celebrate diversity in the school community.

Foothills Rural GSA Network

Foothills Local No. 16 DEHR committee

Project aim: To renew and strengthen our Foothills Rural GSA Network after two years of isolation due to the pandemic, and to strive for increased 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion in the region.

As 2SLGBTQIA+ students experience positive benefits to their health and wellness when we bring them together to affirm, educate and celebrate, this project supported the Foothills Rural GSA Network in its work to

  • connect students by virtual and in-person events, such as a virtual games and movie night, and the first Foothills GSA Conference;

  • share resources and recommendations and co-create best practices with our network of GSA sponsors;

  • strive for increased 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion and work to apply an intersectional framework to all activities;

  • engage students, teachers, school leaders and school board trustees in learning more about gender identity and expression.
Edible and medicinal garden through vertical farming

Senator Patrick Burns School, Calgary

Project aim: To create opportunities for students to explore and connect with Indigenous Albertan and Indigenous Hispanic ways of learning, healing and growing.

With the school being a Spanish bilingual academy, the garden first focused on edible plants native to Latin American countries and Spain, as well as plants native to Alberta. The project allowed students to

  • apply scientific research to determine the plants best suited to the project's aim that would also grow well in the garden tower,

  • apply humanities-based research to link their plant of choice to its cultural relevance and to actively consider the traditional land use for the plants,

  • be actively involved in monitoring the progress of the crops, and

  • apply their leadership skills to collectively decide how to use the harvest.

This garden provided ongoing opportunities for learning, caring, problem solving, storytelling, cooking and contemplating worldview perspectives on land availability and agriculture.

Want to turn your ideas into actions? Apply for a DEHR grant!

Teachers from all Alberta public, separate and franco- phone schools and ATA locals may apply for grants for up to $2,000 for DEHR-related projects planned for the upcoming school year. The application deadline is April 30, 2024.

For more information visit,

Recommended resource

A book cover with the name of the editors in white on a green rectangle. Above is the title in blue text on a white background. The title is surrounded by colourful circles
Building Culturally Responsive Partnerships Among Schools, Families, and Communities

Edited by Maria A Pacino and Susan R Warren.
Available through the ATA library

Portrait of a smiling caucasian blonde women with a white background
Lindsay Yakimyshyn

Administrative Office, Government, ATA