Press Release: Community Coalition Calls for Comprehensive Anti-Oppressive Education on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

(TORONTO, ONTARIO) – In observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD), a coalition of educators, parents, and community organizations, including the Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT) and supporters of public education, unite to call for the implementation of a comprehensive Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum that addresses anti-oppression and anti-racism.

This initiative honours the legacy of Jay Williams, a passionate advocate for justice and equity in education, whose contributions have inspired many.

The Coalition’s efforts respond to the urgent need for an educational curriculum that not only acknowledges but deeply integrates the full scope of Black history, the realities of racism, and the principles of equity and inclusion. Reflecting on the progress yet to be made since the legal abolition of slavery in Canada, the Coalition emphasizes that “Black History IS Canadian History,” a fact that remains underrepresented in current educational content.

In light of recent decisions by educational authorities to remove critical anti-oppressive and anti-racist teaching resources, the Coalition underscores the devastating impact such actions have on educators, students, and the broader community. They argue that addressing white supremacy and colonialism within the education system is not only a matter of curriculum but a significant workload, health, and safety issue for Black and racialized teachers and students alike.

“We, the family of Jay Williams, are proud that he played an instrumental role in the development of Facilitating Critical Conversations resource to guide the work of anti-racism, and in particular anti-black racism in education. The document provides a framework of how to approach equity in education for those most vulnerable. This approach is something Jay worked for the entirety of his tenure in education and has seen success with children and educators of all backgrounds.”

“Navigating the challenges of today’s educational landscape demands that we confront and dismantle the structures of white supremacy and colonialism head-on,” said Nigel Barriffe, Vice

President of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto. “It’s time our curriculum reflects the diverse histories and realities of all Canadians, especially those from marginalized communities. This isn’t just about enriching our educational content; it’s about creating a safer, more equitable learning environment for both students and educators.”

“We honour Jay’s memory by continuing this vital work, pushing for a curriculum that truly represents the principles of justice and equity he stood for,” he added.

The Coalition calls on Minister Lecce and the provincial government to take immediate action to rectify the gaps in the current curriculum, advocating for a truly inclusive educational system that starts from the earliest years of schooling. The proposed curriculum aims to foster an understanding of the complexities of Canadian history, including the contributions and struggles of Black Canadians, and to build a foundation for ongoing learning and dialogue about race, identity, and justice.

As communities across the globe observe IDERD and commit to the ongoing fight against racial discrimination, the Coalition urges the Ministry of Education to honour the spirit of this important day by committing to educational reform that reflects the diversity and richness of all communities. It is a call for action that resonates with the values Jay Williams championed and a step toward the realization of a more just and equitable society.

The Coalition invites the public and educational stakeholders to join in supporting this crucial initiative, emphasizing that collective effort and commitment are essential for bringing about the transformative change needed in our education system.




About the Coalition

The Coalition is made up of educators, parents, and community organizations including the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, the Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators, and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Nigel Barriffe
Vice President
Elementary Teachers of Toronto

Font Resize