Director of Education
Peel District School Board
Dear Director Swarup:
Re: Peel District School Board Anti-Racism Policy
Congratulations to you, Yonnette Dey (Superintendent of Equity, Community Leadership, Partnerships & Engagement) and all of the committed PDSB staff members who produced the new Anti-Racism Policy, which was approved by the Board of Trustees on June 22, 2022.
Thinking retrospectively, we recognize that the policy was preceded by, and is a product of, many years of collective activism on the part of Black communities in Peel Region as well as other racialized communities and anti-racist allies, culminating in the June 2020 “March for Justice.” Just before that march, the organizers stated “we are marching for the future of our siblings and the future of our children,” a forward-looking objective that should be pursued with vigour, integrity and an appropriate sense of urgency.
Crucially, as well, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce has made it clear that systemic racism in the education system must be confronted head-on. By launching the November 2019 review of the PDSB, issuing a series of directives to the PDSB, and initiating other forms of decisive action, Minister Lecce has fully supported community calls for substantive anti-racist reforms within the PDSB.
One of the Ministerial Directives is especially relevant in light of the new PDSB anti-racism policy. Directive 16 states:
The Board shall develop its Anti-Racism Policy in consultation with the Board community and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The Board shall make the policy applicable to both staff and students and include clearly defined outcomes, operating procedures, roles, responsibilities and accountability measures.
Following that directive, I can confirm that the PDSB has had a productive collaborative relationship with the OHRC. OHRC staff received draft copies of the anti-racism policy, provided two rounds of feedback and were satisfied with the degree that the feedback informed revisions to the policy that the board eventually approved.
Based on our assessment of the PDSB anti-racism policy, the OHRC believes it is the most comprehensive such policy in Ontario. It is very much in accord with the OHRC’s Guide to developing human rights policies and procedures, and may serve as a leading practice to inspire other Ontario school boards to create or revise anti-racism policies.
cc: Hon. Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education
Hon. Michael Ford, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism
Patrick Case, Assistant Deputy Minister, Education Equity Secretariat