ZERO tolerance for Anti-Black, Brown and Indigenous Racism in Ontario Schools

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For decades Black, Brown and Indigenous students have been discriminated against and made to feel insignificant in their classes, both by the institution that is supposed to ensure that all students are equal and have the same opportunities at success and by those in government who have chosen to ignore the long calls for systemic change.

Here are recent reports, articles and statistics showcasing the experiences of Black, Brown and Indigenous students in Toronto schools:

Many Black, Brown and Indigenous students from across the province continue to go to school everyday learning from a curriculum that is not representative of who they are and where they've come from. The Eurocentric curriculum that is continually reinforced does not serve the benefit of all students but only a select few. Therefore a total revision of the curriculum is necessary, and it is incumbent that the Minister of Education fulfills the recommendations on Education for Reconciliation in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties and Aboriginal peoples historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students. We are also calling for the same to be done to reflect the contributions of Black individuals to Canada, and not only Canada's negative history of enslavement and disenfranchisement towards them. 

Many issues continue to be faced by Black students, some which include streaming. Black students continue to be pushed into taking classes that are below their abilities, this is evident with the overrepresentation of Black students in applied or locally developed classes. The long term effect this has on the future success of Black students is huge, as right from the beginning they are limited in what they can then pursue as a future career. There needs to be a commitment to end streaming in all schools, this should be done board-wide and not left to individual schools to decide whether to do it or not. According to the TDSB's 2017 study, Black and Indigenous students make up 48% and 1% respectively of the boards expelled students, but are only 12% and 0.30% of the school population. These are alarming numbers that need to be confronted, as to prevent more Black and Indigenous students from being pushed out of school and potentially entering the prison system (school-to-prison pipeline). 

We are also asking that all school boards take on an anti-racism approach, by collecting disaggregated race-based student data by 2021. The data will help in revealing the true negative experiences of Black and Indigenous students and it will show us the educational outcomes and achievement gaps between racialized and Indigenous students and their white peers. Schools continue to ignore the calls for systemic change by citing that these issues are isolated incidents and are a result of individual issues, when in reality it is not the case. The time for real action is now, the futures of many kids depend on it. There have been an overwhelming amount of review and reports with multiple recommendations that have still not been implemented.

Government has a leading role to play in eliminating systemic racism, and it starts from addressing the systemic problem in the education system that has gone on for far too long. 

This is only one phase of many in the Toronto Youth Cabinet's #RECLAIMOURVOICE Campaign to address the anti-Black, Brown and Indigenous racism in Ontario schools.

If you would like to share your story, or get involved, hashtag #RECLAIMOURVOICE on your social media posts or email Stephen here, stephen@thetyc.ca. You can stay up to date by following our social media handles @TOYouthCabinet (Twitter and Instagram) or by visiting the website of the Toronto Youth Cabinet http://thetyc.ca 

We thank you for supporting this initiative! Let us continue to work towards making Ontario's publicly funded education system the best in the world!