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University of Ottawa yoga class replaces white teacher with teacher of South Indian descent

University of Ottawa yoga class resumes with new teacher

A controversial yoga class at the University of Ottawa is back on — with a teacher of Indian background, who is wondering if she was hired because of her race.

Jennifer Scharf used to teach a free yoga class at the University of Ottawa before it was cancelled in late 2015 due to concerns about cultural "oppression."

Jennifer Scharf used to teach a free yoga class at the University of Ottawa before it was cancelled in late 2015 due to concerns about cultural “oppression.”

COURTESY JENNIFER SCHARF

Jennifer Scharf used to teach a free yoga class at the University of Ottawa before it was cancelled in late 2015 due to concerns about cultural “oppression.”

Little more than two months ago, many were outraged to hear that a yoga class at the University of Ottawa was cancelled. The problem wasn’t a lack of interest, the class’s teacher said. It was concerns that yoga was taken from India, a culture that “experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy,” according to the group that once sponsored it.

For those enraged about political correctness and trigger warnings — and worried about free speech — on many university campuses, this appeared to be Exhibit A demonstrating that the youth of North America have gone crazy.

“Just take a semester at UOttawa, and you’ll have 100s of useless controversies thrown in your face,” one commenter wrote on the Facebook page of the campus group that cancelled the class. “Oh yeah, and your tuition money pays for that.”

Now, it appears the controversial class is back on — with a teacher of Indian background, who is wondering if she was hired because of her race.

“Nothing was brought to my attention to teach in a different way or do something differently than the other instructor because none of that was really mentioned to me,” Priya Shah, the new teacher, told the CBC.

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“Nothing was brought to my attention to teach in a different way or do something differently than the other instructor because none of that was really mentioned to me,” Priya Shah, the new yoga teacher at the University of Ottawa, told the CBC.

In a blog post, ousted teacher Jennifer Scharf, of Caucasian background, who taught the class for up to 60 people at the school, expressed her thoughts.

“I heard today that my old yoga class is back on,” she wrote. “Maybe since I called my foes ‘SJW’s’ (social justice warriors) and then refused to speak the word ‘intersectionality’ with people who don’t even have a cursory understanding of the term, the student centre has decided to hire a teacher of South Indian descent.”

Scharf also said Shah had been caught in the system. She added: “I do not care that someone was a jerk to me, it happens all the time, just please stop using other people in your ideological bullying!”

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