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Message from the Director of Education and Board Chair
Message from the Director of Education and Board Chair

February 28, 2020​

Celebrating Bla​ck Excellence

A principal turned national television sports broadcaster.

A student whose quiet leadership and passion for trucks have put him on the path to success. 

A teacher giving her students voice through the art of spoken word. 

Meet  Paul Jones, Je’Vahd Robinson and Anita Asante. They are just a few of the truly amazing individuals whose stories we have had the privilege of sharing this month as we celebrate Black excellence during Black History Month. 

If you have not seen the videos, Twitter and Instagram stories, read the feature stories or listened to the conversations on our newly launched podcast Tune In YRDSB, we encourage you to take the time to do so. Meet some of our Black students, educators, community members and alumni who exemplify excellence.

The stories of these individuals are inspiring, motivating and powerful. They are stories of people who pursue their passions, overcome obstacles and are making a difference.  

Many of our schools have been participating in Black History Month, shining a spotlight on the numerous contributions made by the Black community in Canada. We have seen impressive examples of student-led initiatives, classroom learning and school-wide displays. 


Beyond Blac​k History Month

While it is important that we take the time to put this into focus in February, it is also essential that we also look at how we are embedding this learning in our schools throughout the year. 

We want all of our students to see their identities reflected, celebrated and valued year round. As part of our commitment to that, we are looking Beyond Black History Month and will continue to share these stories and conversations in the months ahead. 


Addressing Anti-B​​lack Racism

As a school board, it is clear that addressing Anti-Black Racism must be a focus for us and we are prioritizing that work.

Studies show that Black students are disproportionately being suspended, not graduating and being identified with special education needs. According to Statistics Canada, it remains one of the most common types of race and ethnicity related hate crimes in our society. And sadly, we know it is manifesting itself in our schools as well. We have the data, and what we are hearing from our students, families, staff and community members reaffirms the urgency of this work. 

We will continue to send a clear message that any form of hate will not be tolerated in our school board, including anti-Black racism. In addition: 

  • Our Anti-Black Racism Steering Committee and Anti-Black Racism Advisory Group continue to guide the development of an Anti-Black Racism Strategy for our Board. 

  • We are updating our Report It Tool to make it easier to report incidents of hate and discrimination, including anti-Black racism. 

  • We continue to analyze the data from our recently completed census titled Every Student Counts to help us better understand the experiences of our students, identify barriers and ensure we are making meaningful progress in supporting our students.

  • Our curriculum department has been reviewing the tools we use to select the books and texts used in classrooms to ensure we are taking a more equitable and inclusive approach. 

As Coordinating Superintendent of Education - Indigenous Education and Equity Cecil Roach said in the third episode of our podcast, “We work in education; it’s a system that we love and sometimes when you tell people that that system is actually sometimes oppressive to some students, it’s not an easy conversation to have, but it’s a conversation that we’re asking people to lean into.”   


Sincerely,

Louise Sirisko, Director of Education and 
Juanita Nathan, Board Chair   ​
 ​​​
 
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