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Campaign will teach elementary students how to combat racism: ‘racism hurts’ to be in Ontario schools this September

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August 12, 2008

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Kindergarten to grade 8 students in Ontario’s elementary public schools soon will be learning how ‘racism hurts’ and what they can do to combat it, thanks to a unique campaign announced today.

The campaign, ‘racism hurts’, is a partnership between the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). It consists of a poster and curriculum materials to help teachers begin a dialogue with students about human rights, discrimination, and racism, and to get students to think about what they can do when they experience or observe racism in their school and in their community.

The award-winning poster was designed as a result of the Commission teaming with students and faculty from Seneca College’s Graphic Design Program in a course called Design for Social Change, while lesson plans were developed by volunteer ETFO members.

“Our federation is committed to fostering a climate of social justice in Ontario and taking a leadership role in such areas as anti-poverty, non-violence and equity,” said ETFO President David Clegg in explaining ETFO’s involvement in the campaign.

“We believe that it is important to first acknowledge that racism exists,” Clegg said. “Then, as education workers, we have a responsibility to work to eliminate it.”

“I can’t think of a better way to create a culture of human rights in Ontario than by engaging young students in dialogue and action with their teachers”, commented Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall. “I’m very pleased that the Commission is working in partnership with ETFO and Seneca College on this important campaign.”

In announcing the campaign to the more than 500 delegates attending ETFO’s annual meeting in Toronto, Clegg explained that a package of the campaign materials will be distributed in September to the 3,500 Ontario schools where ETFO members are teaching.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 73,000 elementary public school teachers and education workers across Ontario and is the largest teacher federation in Canada. The Ontario Human Rights Commission works to promote, protect and advance human rights for the people of Ontario.