Author: Carla Wilson

From To Kill A Mockingbird to Ballet Shoes: A Plea to Save Children’s Literature

The Peel District School Board straddles the outskirts of the Greater Toronto Area, with more than 150,000 students enrolled in its elementary and secondary schools. Visible minorities make up more than half of this culturally and linguistically rich catchment area. And occasionally, local controversy erupts when the progressive mandate of the provincially-run education system accelerates headlong into the more conservative attitudes of local parents, especially when it comes to sex education. Indeed, Ontario Premier Doug Ford campaigned successfully on a promise to roll back the most progressive elements of the curriculum put in place by the previous (Liberal) government. But the problem runs deeper than discussions of birth control and safe sex: A recent Peel District controversy over Harper Lee’s classic 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird shows how wide this gulf has grown between ordinary parents and the professional class that presumes to oversee the educational system. “To Kill a Mockingbird may only be taught in Peel secondary schools, beginning this school year, if instruction occurs through a critical, anti-oppression lens,” declared the School …

Life as a Kuffar: My Seven Lost Years in Kuwait

It’s December, 2017, and I’m awash in late-afternoon sunshine, sitting outside around a table with old friends and former colleagues. The setting is a farm in the agricultural sector of Kuwait. We’re drinking tea and maybe bootleg date rum, reminiscing. Some of us are smoking shisha. There are dogs at our feet. At night, the courtyard lights can be programmed to flash and glow in different colors. If you stand on the roof, you can see the oil fires burning at Burgan, the largest oil field in Kuwait. This is my first time back since I lived in Kuwait between 2006 and 2013, when I was in my thirties. It was a period during which I became uglier, angrier—and, finally, broken. I returned last year to see familiar faces and revisit old haunts. But I also came to figure out why I broke. Was it me? Or was it Kuwait? I find that some things have changed and many have not. That’s true of me. And it’s true of this country. It’s big things like …