They’ve developed a “Non-Woke Candidate List” of right-leaning candidates in both the English Catholic and English Public district school Boards to assist them in gaining influence over the policies in Ontario’s schools. Among other things, the site mockingly refers to historically marginalized groups as “allegedly oppressed” and is ideologically opposed to much of what the school boards in Ontario have stated as core to their anti-racist, equity and human rights policies and beliefs.
The word ‘woke,’ meaning to be aware or conscious of societal conditions, has been co-opted for the political gains of the far right and misused by white conservatives to advance anti-Blackness and homophobia.
In Ontario’s Durham region, the Anti-Black Racism and Black Excellence Committee Executive has since written to the Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) requesting that it openly support equity and public denounce this website that could impact the municipal election. Ideally, the ABR&BE Committee Executive would like to see the Ministry of Education and all School Boards in Ontario openly denounce this website and renew the calls for equity in all Ontario schools.
This is all happening in the wake of the Durham Catholic District School Board’s decision to completely neutertheir anti-racism policy earlier this year, rewriting accepted definitions of Anti-Black Racism, Colonialism, Discrimination and Racism, and entirely removing definitions for Reparation, Restorative Practice, and White Supremacy. The Board also replaced the previous Human Rights and Equity Advisor, setting up an incumbent to work in isolation, taking direction from a board of trustees that has demonstrated a lack of understanding of the issues our community faces.
READ MORE: A CATHOLIC SCHOOL BOARD IN ONTARIO JUST TOOK THE TERM ANTI-RACISM OUT OF ITS ANTI-RACISM POLICY
So what needs to change? There’s a laundry list!
First, all school boards need to sit up and take consultation with the community seriously. In the Durham region alone, there are a group of experts of 60+ professional, educated, Black residents actively involved with the Board. They have worked tirelessly to be involved and should be consulted at every turn.
Listen to us. Hear us. Use the words that we give you to define how to respect and treat our community.
Second, there needs to be a serious investigation into some of these trustees and their actions, especially with their blatant racism and alleged ties to white supremacy. Ontario residents can do the right thing next week and vote for those trustees who have the interests of our community at heart, and who are not afraid to hear our voices. Concerned parents and residents can do the same thing all across Ontario.
Openly question potential trustees about their inclusion on this website and about their beliefs about equity and inclusion for all historically marginalized groups.
Finally (although it’s far from final), if any school board is serious about hiring a Human Rights and Equity Advisor who works with the community, then they need to be allowed to do exactly that.
An advisor needs to have the proper support both from the trustees and the organization as a whole to do great work over the long term. They need employment contracts that protect their interests and ensure that they’re in their roles for a long time. They need access to the ears of the Board and its trustees, so they can relay messages from the community that are heard and actually used!
We also need to take the word ‘woke’ back so that it has its original meaning.
Woke is a noun. It is not an adjective. So words like ‘agenda’ or ‘marketing’ should never follow it. Don’t add prefixes or suffixes to the word ‘woke’. It’s not ‘wokeness,’ it’s woke! Woke describes people only and is a state of being.