Lindork’s Lists – Q&A #23: Andrew G. Parker
Note: this is the public version of my email newsletter Q&A that gets sent to paid subscriber inboxes first every other Sunday. You can get these Q&As in your inbox first by becoming a paid subscriber.
Originally published to newsletter subscribers on Feb 13, 2022
The twenty-third person I’m profiling in my newsletter subscriber Q&A series is:
Edmonton Educator & Black Teachers Association Co-Founder Andrew G. Parker
Getting to know Andrew G. Parker:
I first met Andrew Parker over a decade ago through my friend and former colleague Kendra—who happened to be Andrew’s wife! To be honest though, I think I might have known Andrew even before then, since he was well-known as the “Pride of the North Side” as a star athlete, coach, and educator in north east Edmonton. I grew up and went to school in north east Edmonton as well, so there’s some north side pride and connection there (Andrew is one of north Edmonton’s most staunch advocates!!) When I first met Andrew, I remember being blown away by his presence. His enthusiasm, passion, positivity, is truly contagious. As a teacher, Andrew has inspired and influenced so many students. Recently, he co-founded the Black Teachers’ Association of Alberta, and joined the City of Edmonton’s Anti-Racism Advisory Committee. Andrew is doing important work in the city and I’m excited for you to learn more about him in the Q&A below.
Let’s Dive Into the Q&A with Andrew G. Parker:
Can you talk about being co-founder of the Black Teachers Association of Alberta, what the association does and why you started it?
The group was created by many of us in the community who wanted to advocate for our youth, our colleagues, and our families in the education system.
Queen Sarah Adomako-Ansah and I reached out to our community to see how we could best support one another after the murder of George Floyd and the call for justice in our community that we wanted to support within the education system. I consider this the most important work in my educational career.
We started this to give our community an authentic voice. A voice that sometimes gets dismissed, silenced, or overlooked. I’m proud to support my family and amazing allies in the Black Teachers’ Association.
Can you talk about being an educator. How long have you been a teacher (at M.E. LaZerte) and why did you go into that field?
This year will be my ninth year. I left temporarily to work for my board of education last year. During that year I also applied for my Masters in Educational Policy Studies with a specification in Social Justice and International Studies. This path led me back to the classroom to support our youth in the community as they pursue anti-racism, social justice and human rights initiatives.
Can you talk about being a professional athlete and coach?
Basketball was my love. A game I still enjoy. Playing overseas was incredible—Germany, Brazil, France, the United States. Everything I learned on the street ball courts of North Edmonton prepared me for a life of globe trotting and fellowship in humanity.
Coaching is my passion, I’ve taken a break for 3 years now to support other initiatives, but I’d love to coach again. I started coaching at 17 years old at my local YMCA (Castle Downs), but I’m very excited to coach my daughter and sons teams in the future 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿.
Can you talk about your role as a community activist? You’ve been a part of, and have spoken at anti racism rallies, can you articulate why it’s important for you to be an active voice against racism in the city?
Activism is a tradition, a tradition handed down from generations of heroes and mentors in my community. I humbly accept the responsibilities of the traditions handed down from our ancestors. I also request that the future be different. Education is the perfect resource and platform for this work, however policies need to change, and our community desires representation, especially now, and forever.
Being silent when you are afforded privileges and rights when others don’t have the same access, is a problem in this work. My aim is to be as active as possible and to amplify the voices of those that desire change in our city.
Recently you were appointed to the City of Edmonton’s anti-racism advisory committee. Can you talk about why you wanted to be part of that group and what you hope comes out of your involvement?
The committees work has been dedicated to numerous initiatives related to Islamophobia, anti-semitism, anti-racism and all forms of discrimination. In my earlier months on this team I was involved in many conversations with city managers, councillors, and members of our municipal government.
For the last few months I have not been able to be as active in this work due to my commitment to my studies at the U of A. But in the future I plan to continue to work with this team to address very impactful work in our city.
I’d also like to point people to this CBC article about the speech you did at the anti-racism rally back in 2020. Now that it’s two years later, is there anything you would add or change about the speech? Have we made progress?
The work is far from over, but we are closer in some regards. The Black Teachers’ Association of Alberta has made tremendous efforts to support the community. A huge reason why we’ve been able to take steps towards equality, equity and inclusion, is our support for one another. The work will be done, it’s just a matter of how many hands will come to help.
You also have noted that you’re a mentor, can you talk about being a mentor and why mentorship is important to you?
My mentors were heroes to me, not because of what they said or did, but because they gave me time when they could do whatever they desired with their own spare time. Sacrificing time to help kids is a conviction, a belief, a level of faith. I’m thankful that I get an opportunity to help others in ways that I’ve been helped, as a youth.
Can you share a particular memorable moment / success in your career / life?
Raising my children. I played basketball, committed to social justice, but raising my kids is my moment of success.
Can you share a particular challenging moment, obstacles or failure in your career / life? And perhaps what you learned from it or how you overcame it?
Getting expelled from school, and then re-instated, because of adults who saw more in me, than my responses to a complex world. I learned that titles, awards, privileges, and victories are only part of the journey. But the best part is learning, and becoming the best version of yourself.
Can you share advice for others who might be interested in getting into education or activism?
This job takes a lot, to be a lot. And a lot is sometimes more than we can give, because sometimes giving is taxing, but every teacher pays their taxes.
This Q&A will go out during Black History Month. This month is intended to honour the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities, and this year’s theme is “The Future is Now” celebrating and acknowledging the transformative work that Black Canadians and their communities (including YOU!) are doing right now. Can you talk about how you’ll be observing Black History Month, ways others can recognize Black History Month and support the work of Black Canadians?
I plan on fully immersing myself in Black history month this year. At home. At school. In the community. Everywhere. As a kid I always wanted my history to be included in the textbooks, for my teachers to look like me, for the activities to be based in my culture. I wanted things to be equitable, and opportunities to learn about all of my classmates. Black History Month reminds us that, education can be different. And unique. Be unique.
Can you tell me about your hobbies! What do you do for fun?
I play video games, I love music, and I like reading.
For fun I like to hang with my kinfolk.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Be kind and just. Racism is terrible. Humanity is ultimate.
Wrapping up our Q&A:
What show would you recommend people watch on Netflix (or other streaming services) and why?
Is there a book or podcast you recently read (or doesn’t have to be recent) that you would recommend to others and why?
The Autobiography of Malcolm X. (period).
What is one of your favourite local restaurants or stores you’d recommend?
Boston Pizza and anything locally owned by the Caribbean and African Culture. Dig food that my ancestors ate.
What’s something about Alberta you love or recommend others check out?
Black Teachers’ Association. Black-Owned Market. 5 Artists One Love. Jamaica Association of Northern Alberta. Africa Centre. YEG the come up. University of Alberta Black Students’ Association. Concordia University of Edmonton Black Students’ Association. Africart Plus More. CCACH. AfroQuiz. Calgary Black Chambers. MLA David Shepherd. Robert Tyndale. Keenan Pascal. Barrington Simpson. Ahmed Knowmadic. Jesse Lipscombe. And everyone else committed to uplifting our community in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Thank you Andrew for sharing your story!
You can connect with Andrew on:
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