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Responding to anti-Black racism

Responding to anti-Black racism: Resources to support parents and students

As staff working to support a pluralistic and multicultural community, we have all been shaken by the events of the past couple of weeks. We wanted to share our thoughts, empathy and commitment to making sure we have done all we can to combat the systemic racism that continues to exist. To students, parents, and community: we hope you are all well and supporting each other during these difficult times and that you know we are with you if there is anything you need.

Tim Hawes, Principal
on behalf of the HMMS staff



Over the past week, we have witnessed the devastating impact of anti-Black racism. Too many people and communities in the United States and in Canada continue to experience racism and injustice. The human rights and dignity of every person must be protected, and that can only be done when we individually and collectively take action to disrupt and dismantle the systems that perpetuate racism and oppression. The OCDSB commits to this work and to actively engage in the listening, learning and collaboration necessary to build a better way forward together.

The violence and attacks we are seeing raise many emotions; everyone deals with those emotions differently, based on our personal experience. For students, families, staff, and community members with lived experience with racism, these events create an increased sense of vulnerability, anger, pain, and sadness. We are a caring community and we must remember to reach out and support each other; we must acknowledge that what is happening is not okay; and we must remain committed to speaking out against racism in all its forms.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has a strong commitment to equity and inclusion. We acknowledge that we have work to do within our system. As a school district, we are committed to challenging ourselves to examine privilege and question how we can make changes to eliminate racism from within our system. We are committed to creating a place where everyone has an opportunity to learn and work in spaces of respect and belonging.   

Parents may have questions about how to tackle these difficult subjects with their children. Earlier today, I had the opportunity to join CBC Radio’s Ontario Today to discuss how to speak to children about these issues. I was inspired by the thoughtful questions of students and parents. If you are interested, you can listen here.

You may also find the following articles and resources helpful:

 

Relevant Mental Health Supports:

  • Black Youth Helpline: 1-833-294-8650 https://blackyouth.ca/
  • Jaku Konbit: (Black youth support group) 613-567-0600
  • OCISO (staff working remotely) 613-725-5671x316 or email: info@ociso.org
  • Somali Centre for Family Services:  613-526-2075
  • Youth Services Bureau (YSB) crisis line (available 24/7) 613-260-2360 or chat.ysb.ca
  • KidsHelp phone (available 24/7) 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868
  • Ottawa Distress Centre: 613-238-3311
  • counselling connect (same or next day mental health appointments)

 

Showing your support against racism

You may be aware that there is a peaceful protest planned to be held in Ottawa tomorrow. Participation is a personal choice, and we encourage parents of students participating to discuss safety plans with your child, including crowd management and the risks of COVID-19, meeting places, and media exposure. Ottawa Public Health has provided some information about how participants might stay safe and reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

In light of the current pandemic, some families may look for other ways to show support and take action against racism. Read this article  or consider these ways that students can express feelings and learn more about these important issues include:

  • Reflect on your knowledge and understanding of issues related to oppression and anti-Black racism - read books and/or research a particular topic to learn more;
  • Be prepared for Beginning Courageous Conversations about Race
  • Be an ally: how to be an ally;
  • Reflecting on your personal behaviour and practice and identifying opportunities for learning or change - don’t forget to think about your social media behaviour;
  • Reaching out to friends who might be affected and let them know you care;
  • Contacting your trustee, city councillor, Member of Provincial Parliament or Member of Parliament to let them know about your concerns;

Find more resources on our website.

As a school district, we are committed to challenging ourselves to examine privilege and question how we can make changes to remove bias and barriers that get in the way of personal, academic and professional success.

We must stand together to effect the change our students and our families deserve.

 

Sincerely,

Camille Willliams-Taylor

Director of Education/Secretary to the Board

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