OSSTF D19: Respond to Anti-Black Racism!

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Two and a half months ago, the Peel District School Board released the Ministry of Education’s Review of Peel Schools. In that report, the Peel community as a whole learned what Black and racialized staff, students, and families have been saying for years: Peel is complicit in a system of white supremacy that harms all people of colour, where anti-Black racism has been allowed to fester and grow.

In light of this review and recent events, including the murder of George Floyd in the United States, the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto, and the resulting protests, we are calling on Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation: District 19 and its executive to unequivocally condemn racism and anti-Black racism, and commit to better. 

We ask that OSSTF D19: 

  • Apologize for their prior statements, which did not adequately address the scope or the severity of racism and discrimination in Peel, and their delay in issuing such statements.
  • Have all executive members take mandatory anti-Black racism training from an external expert or organization that includes learning about and normalizing the use of language to address racism, including white supremacy and privilege. 
  • Immediately recruit for an Anti-Black Racism Advisory Council that represents the diversity of the Peel community that we serve, with the actual council formed no later than two weeks from now.
  • Endorse the recommendations of the Ministry Review. Provide a strong, public statement that highlights sections of the Review most relevant to OSSTF teaching staff, including recommendations to conduct destreaming pilot projects, reduce suspensions to proportional levels, and participate in community consultations.
  • Advocate with the employer to ensure that our anti-Black racism work is meaningful and not just another PD box checked, and that Black and racialized members who lead this work are supported and protected in their schools.
  • Actively and confidentially collect quantitative and qualitative data from members to better understand workplace safety and anti-racism, and to ensure BIPOC members are safe and supported. Share results in a regular and timely manner. 
  • Identify barriers to union involvement for BlPOC members. Recruit and encourage BIPOC leadership and engagement within the union, so that the union is representative of all members. Centre the experience and knowledge of Black and racialized members in the union’s anti-racist plans.
  • Provide learning opportunities and resources for staff so they can be actively anti-racist in their teaching practices, uphold the standards of the teaching profession as outlined by the Ontario College of Teachers, and fulfill their duties as educators under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
  • Develop a mentorship and/or awareness program for new members to explicitly inform them of the various ways, beyond contract maintenance, that the union protects its members, including protection from discriminatory and racist work environments.
  • Work with OSSTF Provincial to develop a province-wide anti-racism strategy that will ensure OSSTF districts across the province represent the diversity of the students they serve, and can better work towards providing our students with safe, inclusive and anti-racist schools.