A Response to the Ontario Human Rights Commissions calls for written submissions & key informant interviews.

They are saying an inquiry won't make a difference. They are saying they've done enough.
We will never stop demanding justice for our children. 

We, the undersigned organizations, express deep frustration and disappointment with the Ontario Human Rights Commissions’ (OHRC) failure to fulfill their duty and their half-measured approach to engaging with Black Ontarians. Our voices echo with the frustration of the Black communities, as we witness the OHRC's failure to engage meaningfully with our ongoing struggles within the education system. 

Parents of Black Children (PoBC), alongside partnering community organizations and advocates such as ANCHOR Canada, Policing-Free Schools, Halton Parents for Change, Parents Against Racism Simcoe and many more, have tirelessly fought for the wellbeing and equitability of Black students in Ontario. Yet, our calls for a comprehensive inquiry into anti-Black racism within the education system have been disregarded by the OHRC. The very institution that should champion human rights and equity has chosen to ignore our pleas. In addition to the OHRC’s refusal to conduct an inquiry, the OHRC, under the leadership of Chief Commissioner Patricia DeGuire has also actively attempted to prevent Parents of Black Children and organizations affiliated with us from engaging in the consultative process the OHRC is purporting to be leading.

OHRC’s refusal to conduct a fulsome inquiry:
For over a year, PoBC and partnering community advocates have consistently called on the OHRC to initiate a thorough and fulsome inquiry into anti-Black racism within education. The OHRC has not only ignored, and excused our request, but they have also blatantly excluded us from their process of publicly addressing anti-Black racism within education. The plan and approach of the OHRC in addressing anti-Black racism within education have consistently disregarded the importance of further studies on the experiences of Black children and youth. 
The OHRC has maintained that because there are many existing studies on the general experiences of Black people, they believe that conducting a fulsome inquiry into anti-Black racism within education, would not bring about any meaningful change. This stance is unsettling, especially considering that the OHRC has not hesitated to initiate inquiries in cases involving the right to read and discrimination against Black individuals by the Toronto Police Service, are those inquiries not meaningful and effective towards change?  
By neglecting the crisis that Black children and youth are subjected to, the OHRC reveals a selective approach to the causes they champion. If conducting inquiries was deemed necessary to stand up for previous issues, then why not apply the same standard to address the violence faced by Black children and youth?

Intentional Lack of engagement with Black community stakeholders

Instead of understanding the crucial importance of conducting a comprehensive inquiry, the OHRC has dismissed our call to action by lackadaisically siting the recommendations we, Black community advocates submitted to them after our last meeting, including the Parents of Black Children & Policing-Free Schools, demands. They then proceeded to release a "What We Heard Report" that summarizes their previous roundtable discussion, which excluded the voices of Black advocates in Ontario. This exclusion is a direct affront to justice and undermines the very principles the OHRC claims to uphold. This deliberate exclusion not only reflects a lack of genuine concern for the experiences of Black children and youth but also perpetuates a long-standing pattern of sidelining our voices and erasing our activism.
The OHRC has intentionally excluded the very voices it purports to represent. As a collective of Black advocates in Ontario, we initiated this crucial dialogue, only to have our voices stifled and our lived experiences disregarded. This calculated exclusion not only demonstrates a shocking apathy towards the struggles faced by Black children and youth but also perpetuates a historical pattern of marginalization, erasure of our activism, and the prolongation of systemic injustice.

Half-measured approach and report

The OHRC's approach to addressing anti-Black racism within education involved compiling a list of 83 existing reports, but none of them provided a comprehensive inquiry into the educational experience of Black children and youth. This highlights a significant gap in the OHRC's efforts. As an organization entrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding human rights and promoting equity, the OHRC should serve as the moral compass of the province. However, their actions and disregard for the Black community reveal a clear lack of commitment to tackling anti-Black racism in Ontario's education system. Merely compiling a list of unrelated reports, which they did not publish, cannot be used as an excuse to devalue and dismiss the urgent need for a dedicated inquiry.

It is important to note that the reports in question are not specifically focused on education but rather provide general information about the Black experience. What we require is an inquiry explicitly centred on the experiences of Black students and families within Ontario's K-12 education system. Unfortunately, such an inquiry does not currently exist. It is crucial to hold the OHRC accountable and demand that they demonstrate where a comprehensive inquiry focusing on the educational experiences of Black individuals can be found.

Duplication of work and waste of resources 

Adding insult to injury, the OHRC has now called for written submissions, duplicating the work we have already provided them. We have painstakingly outlined our demands and shared victim impact statements, only to have our voices disregarded once again. This redundancy further highlights the OHRC's unwillingness to acknowledge the crisis faced by Black children and youth in our education system.
As a collective of organizations we we stand resolute, demanding unwavering accountability.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission must reclaim its role as the conscience of this province, demonstrating the courage to speak the truth and act decisively and honestly. We implore the OHRC to shed the cloak of complacency, seize this moment with unyielding resolve, and collaborate intentionally and sincerely with Black community advocates. We will settle for nothing short of an inquiry. It is what our families and our students deserve.  We will always be willing to come to the table on behalf of our families, only then can we forge a path toward the equitable treatment and educational triumph of Black children and youth in Ontario.