Monday, March 1

Montreal school board blamed for racism at school

A Montreal mother and her two black children obtained $ 65,000 from the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec in relation to allegations that targeted a school board for racism, assault and failure to provide an unsafe school environment. toxic.

The decision, which was released in July but was not revealed until Monday, concludes that the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board was at fault. In the absence of an agreement between the parties, the case will now be brought before the Human Rights Tribunal of Quebec next year, according to the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRAAR), which has helped the mother to bring the matter before the Commission.

“This is a very important decision in terms of the amount of damages awarded to victims – especially children – of racism in a school,” Fo Niemi, director of CRAAR said on Monday. “Given the systemic remedies requested by the commission, this will certainly have a global impact on all school boards or all service centers – French and English – in Quebec. “

The Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board – now a Service Center – did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The mother, identified only by her first name, Asha, claimed that her children had suffered racist bullying and harassment over a three-year period. She eventually took her son, now 12, and her daughter, now 14, out of school.

The Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission investigated the complaints and found evidence of derogatory comments from other students. However, the school authorities have not acted sufficiently to put an end to this discrimination, according to the commission.

Instead, authorities often blamed the boy, who is said to have a difficult personality, and questioned the seriousness of the incidents. The commission also found that the boy was punished more severely by management when he initiated the altercation.

The word in n

Asha also filed a complaint about her daughter, who had received an assignment involving the n-word.

In its decision, the committee recommended, inter alia, that school staff and students receive regular training on racism and that educational material be reviewed to remove any racist reference.

Mr. Niemi maintains that schools in Quebec are required to adopt anti-bullying policies, but he believes that in this case, the school has failed Asha’s children.

The boy was taken out of school in 2017 and his sister a year later. Asha claims her son, who was only seven when the incidents started, are still feeling the impact of the bullying. “I can’t say he’s 100% okay. We still have a lot of work to do, ”she said in a video conference with reporters.

In 2018, Asha went public with a complaint when her daughter, then 11, was sent home with an assignment involving the n-word. The exercise included a long list of words, in French, including various objects and animals, but also the n word. The publisher then modified this educational material.

“The school has consistently denied racism,” Asha said Monday. “A teacher even said that the word n ​​was not racist in French because it is used in French books. “

According to Mr. Niemi, this debate is too often reduced to an opposition between freedom of expression and anti-racism.

“This word does not only concern an intellectual or philosophical debate”, he underlined. “In the context of a classroom, it aims to create a poisoned and toxic environment for black students and black parents who feel the effect of this racist expression. “

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