In the past weeks, the senseless murders of black men and women in Canada and America have galvanised national and international recognition of the realities of systematic anti-black racism, discrimination, and brutality that is perpetrated against people of colour throughout Western Society. 

While it is only recently that these matters have been brought to the limelight in such a pronounced manner through protests and activism, the roots of discrimination and anti-black racism run through every vein of our country and province since it’s very inception. 

Racism is a matter that people of colour contend with each and every day of their lives and is an inescapable reality of both society and the education system. 

Through this time, numerous educational institutions have made statements and commitments to focus on equity in their practices, however, it is exceptionally important to note the difference between fundamental change to support racialized people, and performative acts. 

During this time, students of all backgrounds, creeds, races, and identities need leadership that is predicated on an authentic commitment to dismantling systems of oppression and discrimination. This is for the betterment of black students, and the education system as a whole. 

Race-based data collection, a commitment to supporting racialised educators and employees, hiring racialised teachers, superintendents, and Directors of Education who meaningfully contribute to the diversity and decision-making process, teaching from diverse curricular texts, and taking personal responsibility for self-education are some aspects Governments, School Boards, and educators can take to improve this reality. Anti-black racism is a burden that we each must carry and collectively work to eradicate. 

Through the COVID-19 situation and it’s impacts on predominantly low income, racialised individuals, we have once again been exposed to the reality that adverse impacts in health also more often impact black people. There is not a single conceivable aspect of society that is not tinged in a history of prejudice and discrimination, and it is time to start undoing the misnomers of the past. 

How we regard the freedom, experiences, and humanity of black people will be determined by how we meaningfully act and hold ourselves and each other accountable. This is a defining moment in our history that society will reflect on for years to come. The future of our province is dependent on the actions we take, and most importantly by the truth and conviction with which we take them. 

Sally Meseret

President, OSTA-AECO

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