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Letter to the community on anti-Black racism in education

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February 27, 2023

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Dear Community Members,

Over the past year, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has met with its Commissioners, partners, stakeholders, education officials, community organizations and the Ministry of Education on issues pertaining to anti-Black racism in all of Ontario’s publicly-funded education systems. On January 30 and February 9, 2023, the OHRC met with community organizations which advocate and work to address anti-Black racism in publicly-funded education in Ontario. The OHRC recognizes the importance of their diligent work, including sharing their recommendations, and is grateful for the sacrifice of their time and participation.

Thirty-plus years of reports, studies, and grassroots work has proved that anti-Black racism exists in education. Not only has the problem continued, but also it has deepened markedly.

The OHRC has studied, investigated, and litigated matters involving systemic anti-Black racism in education for decades. Its recent work includes submissions to the Ministry of Education on strengthening accountability for school board trustees, letters to York Catholic District School Board, Toronto District School Board and Minister Lecce on various issues in the education sector, and a statement on Code obligations of education officials.

The OHRC is heartened by the rise in community activism and engagement. Having heard the voices of Black communities and professionals in the education system, we must develop solutions focused on Black students’ well-being, achievement, and belonging to level up their education experience.

The OHRC acknowledges the campaign over the last year from community groups calling for an inquiry into anti-Black racism within Ontario school boards. The OHRC recognizes systemic anti-Black racism in Ontario’s publicly-funded education system is in crisis. Lately, the significant increase of hate in our society, especially towards Black people, has exacerbated the problem. After much deliberation, the OHRC has determined Black communities do not need to be further studied and researched. It has concluded that immediate action and solutions are imperative. We must act now.

The OHRC is committed to a long-term, Ontario-wide process that will hold all duty-holders accountable for eliminating anti-Black racism in publicly-funded education systems. The OHRC will allocate recommended action to all duty-holders, including the Ministry of Education, school boards and districts, trustees, and the Ontario College of Teachers.

The OHRC will rely on and engage in extensive analyses of existing reports and recommendations from the last few decades, including victim impact statements.

With the support of our partners, community organizations, Black educators and administrators, and Black professionals in the education sector, the OHRC will produce and release an action plan, with short and long-term goals and recommendations to duty-holders. Part of the action plan is to keep the communities informed continually, by way of public announcements and engagements.

The OHRC will be releasing this letter publicly on its website and other forms.



Patricia DeGuire
Chief Commissioner