Date of Award



© 2022 Heather Saunders

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Gizelle Luevano

Second Advisor

William Smith

Third Advisor

Rita Henderson


Despite numerous studies on race relations and racism in Canada, there is a relative paucity of research on school leaders’ perceptions of cultural responsiveness in the Canadian educational system. Racial diversity among students enrolled in Canadian schools has increased dramatically over the last few decades. The diversity gap between a racialized student population and White school leaders continues to widen, with more than 95% of Canadian school leaders being White (Turner, 2015). The primary objective of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore school leaders’ perceptions of how culturally responsive practices improve student outcomes. This study was guided by the following question: How do Canadian school leaders perceive their capacity to foster culturally responsive practices to influence student outcomes? Semi structured interviews (30 to 70 minutes each) were conducted with five school leaders who identified as White, monolingual, cisgender, and able-bodied. Each participant had a master’s degree and had been in the field of education between 14 and 22 years. Data was analyzed using critical race theory, specifically culturally responsive school leadership, as a theoretical framework to examine school leaders’ perceptions through the lens of race and racism. The findings suggest that urgent changes in university educator programs, school leadership programs, and district professional development are necessary for preparing educators and school leaders to address issues of racial awareness, equity, and social justice in Canadian schools and improve student outcomes for all students.


Ed.D. Dissertation