March 21, 2022 – Education, conversations, and denouncing racial discrimination are vital to creating change. At the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB), we acknowledge the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which takes place each year on March 21, as a way to reaffirm our commitment of providing a safe, inclusive, and equitable future for all.
This day is observed annually by the United Nations, with the 2022 theme of “voices for action against racism.” The goal is to highlight the importance of strengthening all areas of decision-making to prevent and combat racial discrimination, reaffirm the importance of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and protect civil space, and to recognize the contribution of individuals and organizations that stand up against racial discrimination and the challenges they face.
On social media, the #FightRacism hashtag is used to raise awareness, allow individuals to share stories, and educate others to foster a global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination.
Each day, the UCDSB takes steps to #FightRacism in the classroom by providing students with rich indigenous education opportunities, engaging in Black History Month and other cultural awareness activities, making discussions about race and equity a natural occurrence, and encouraging student voice.
“We are absolutely committed to ensuring that every student and family feels welcomed and that they belong in our schools and communities,” says Dan McRae, Principal of Equity and Inclusion. “Systemic racism exists and the solution is the job of everyone. We all have work that we can do to make our schools better for each other. I’ve spoken to thousands of our students about racism and unconscious bias this school year and our students very clearly recognize the need for change. I can imagine schools where every student sees themselves represented in the curriculum and feels like they belong, and that work begins by listening to our students.”
Student voice is important within the UCDSB. We are committed to providing students with a place to be heard, seen, and understood. Hear from some of our students in our latest video called Educate to Blast Out Hate.
It is crucial for each organization, including school districts, to understand and recognize racism, which includes unconscious bias, and fight for racial equality. UCDSB’s Board Improvement and Equity Plan plays a vital role in providing a roadmap of the board’s values, objectives, and goals to ensure the dignity and human rights of everyone.
The UCDSB We All Belong survey will provide an opportunity to better understand our school demographics, how students are being served and will help improve learning outcomes and environments regardless of class, gender, ethnicity, disability, race, religion or sexual orientation. This initiative is part of a broader provincial program, regulated by the Anti-Racism Act, where school boards across the province are completing a student survey to better understand their communities.
“Providing a safe, equitable, and inclusive learning environment for all students is of the utmost importance for us,” says Director of Education Ron Ferguson. “We recognize that there are systematic gaps, and we are working to eliminate those gaps and ensure all students get the education they need to thrive beyond our school walls.”
“It’s crucial that each of us plays a role in bettering our world. This of course, starts with understanding racism and what is happening within our own communities,” adds UCDSB Chair John McAllister. “As we strive to make our schools inclusive places, with education and lessons that students can see themselves in.”
Through policies and procedures regarding anti-racism, bullying prevention and religious accommodation, and equal access to education, the UCDSB is committed to providing a safe and equitable environment for all. This includes professional development opportunities for staff to continue to provide and promote inclusive learning environments for students across the district.
To learn more about UCDSB’s equity and inclusion commitments, please view our website and check out the board’s new We all Belong Instagram account.