The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has been inspired and encouraged to see communities honour the legacies of Black people and celebrate Black joy.
Indeed, experiences, histories, and identities differ among Black communities, but common to their experiences are talent, skill, dignity, and excellence, which reflect Black joy.
As the annual observance of Black History Month ends, the OHRC continues to honour the well-being, achievement, and successes of Black people and students year-round. It recognizes the ongoing struggle rooted in systemic anti-Black racism in our education system, which impedes and stifles progress for many students in Black communities across Ontario.
Thirty-plus years of reports, studies, and grassroots work have proved that anti-Black racism exists in education. The OHRC has studied, investigated, and litigated matters concerning systemic anti-Black racism in publicly-funded education for decades. Recent studies show the problems not only still exist but also have deepened.
OHRC’s revitalized strategic plan, Human Rights First: A Plan for Belonging in Ontario, highlights the importance of accountability for systemic discrimination in education and improving outcomes for students disproportionately affected by discrimination.
Over the coming months, the OHRC will examine and address these issues through community engagement, research on leading practices, and consultation with the education sector. Constructive dialogue, where community and education partners can share expertise and advice on solutions, is essential. This work will help identify concrete actions that must be taken at all levels of the education system and establish action and monitoring plans. The OHRC will release an action plan to help combat anti-Black racism in education and hold duty-holders accountable and will have practical guidance in the hands of the education sector within the next school year.
“The recent rise and increased visibility of anti-Black racism and hate in Ontario’s public education system has sparked renewed and persistent calls to combat these issues,” said Patricia DeGuire, Chief Commissioner. “The OHRC is heartened by the rise in community activism and engagement. Community voices and voices of Black professionals in the education system will be heard to address anti-Black racism in education and to identify and develop solutions focused on Black students’ well-being, achievement, and belonging.”