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Observing the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 in the Classroom

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

I can’t quite believe that 2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It feels very strange when events that are etched permanently on your memory are introduced into the History curriculum and even stranger when you start teaching children who weren’t even alive when it happened.

9/11 is a day of remembrance. A day to remember the victims, a day to remember service personnel, a day to remember those who lived, albeit changed forever by the event. But it is also a day to talk about Islamophobia. A day to remind people that whilst al-Qaeda committed heinous crimes in the name of Islam, they are NOT representative of all Muslims. So, whilst it is a day to remember the victims of the attacks, it is also a day to consider those whose lives were changed forever simply because they shared the same skin colour as the attackers.

9/11 is a historical event. However, the ramifications are still being felt. It is important that we do not shy away from these uncomfortable conversations in the classroom or at home. And we cannot pretend that Canadians don’t need to have these conversations, even despite the myths that we are a nation of cultural tolerance and so radically different from the U.S. The murder of a Muslim family in London, Ontario, in June of this year is a clear example of why we need to be talking about Islamophobia. Islamophobia continues to thrive. It is not history; it is happening today.

I have put together a learning resource on 9/11 which I will be using in class on Friday. If you are a teacher reading this blog post then I hope you will find this lesson an excellent springboard for important conversations about remembrance, terrorism and Islamophobia. And if you’re a parent reading this blog post, I hope it will be a resource for you to talk to your family about how 9/11 has changed our lives and how we can support Muslims in our communities.

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