Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Jamie Wilson Manitoba Treaty Commissioner and the Racism of lower expectations

James B. (Jamie) Wilson is the second Treaty Commissioner for the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba. He was at the University of Manitoba to speak about racism during the recent homecoming events. He was a guest speaker at the Presidents Visionary Conversations: We Need To Talk About Racism on Wednesday, September 12. This is a double header where we attempt to tread lightly around the themes of racism, family, role models, success, thoughts on the racism of lower expectations that we project on Aboriginal youth, and Jamie's work building trust between communities across Manitoba.

To Learn more (Podcast):
part I:  ttp://
part II:


  1. Everyone has role models, whether they are conscious of it or not. Role models can be good or bad. Jamie Wilson explains that aboriginal youth feel that their culture has been lost and they are no longer warriors in this changing age. Robert states that the application of a warrior is changing into something new, he would consider himself a warrior. I could see the definitions of a warrior changing into someone who fights for the good of society, through speaking, presentations, and demonstrations. I could also see it being mistaken very easily as my own thesaurus states; combatant, soldier, fighter, trooper. The synonyms to a warrior are intimidating when thought of in this way. Our youth’s view of a warrior could be either or depending on the role models they have to make sense of the world around them. With negative role models, youth may think joining a gang to be an act of power or to connect with brothers. Aboriginal youth, as any youth, seek for a place to fit in and to feel comfortable; gangs should not be the answer.
    As an alternative to gangs, youth want a chance to be successful at something. If their role models, or teachers, believe in their success and give them a chance for success they could become successful. Amy Cuddy created a TED Talks titled “Your body language shapes who you are”, and it speaks to faking it till you become it. This is much like the self-fulfilling prophecy, which states that perceptions of people actually can shape who they become. Amy was in a horrible car crash which left her IQ two standard deviations lower than what it had been. As someone who prided herself on her intelligence, she felt as though she lost her identity. She ended up in Harvard, and essentially faked it till she made it, then became it as a result of supporting people who believed in her. I would suggest that as role models, or teachers, we believe in troubled youth and their success so they too can fake it till they become it.

  2. Prior to listening to the interview with Jamie Wilson, I did not see the correlation between racism and lowered expectations. However, after listening to Jamie speak on his experience in University and the lowered expectations he experienced due to his ethnicity, I felt began to see the connection.

    It is in my opinion that the cultural “biases” Aboriginal students are facing are much the same as those of ESL (English as a Second Language) students. Isabella Yurkovetsky, a fourth grade teacher in Los Angeles California, who was rated the most effective teacher by the LA Times, makes a great analogy while explaining what happens when teachers are willing to accept low levels of performance: “If we set the bar really low the students are not going to rise to it. I feel in a way more parallel to physical therapy where you kind of have to be a little bit tough and say I know it hurts, but you have to make that step because if you don’t you will never walk again” (Finding their Voices in a Multi-Language Classroom). I value the way she acknowledges that there are many different challenges minority students are facing, but it is in their best interest to be pushed to reach the high expectations in order to reach their full potential.

    On the other hand, I was shocked to hear that a survey conduced by MetLife found only 36% of teachers thought all their students had the ability to succeed academically. I cannot help but wonder if this lack of confidence in the students is at all related to the ‘racism of lower expectations’ which Wilson speaks of.

    With that in mind, it is in my opinion that we not only need to have high expectations of all students but also supply the students with the necessary resources to meet these high expectations. Simply expecting the students to succeed will not suffice.

    Finding their Voices in a Multi-Language Classroom. Retrieved February 20,
    2014, from

    The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. MetLife. Retrieved February 20,