ARPCF Applauds OCDSB’s Decision to Staff Response to Anti-Palestinian Racism

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Montreal, March 28, 2024 - The Anti-Racism Program of the CJPME Foundation (ARPCF) commends the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) for its landmark decision to allocate two full-time equity coach positions dedicated to supporting Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, and Arabic-speaking students. This progressive move represents a crucial step towards addressing and mitigating anti-Palestinian racism (APR) and discrimination within the Ottawa-Carleton community. By recognizing the unique challenges faced by the affected student groups, the OCDSB has set a precedent for inclusivity and support that will undoubtedly enhance the learning environment for all.

Jamila Ewais, a Researcher for the ARPCF, expressed strong support for the OCDSB's efforts to create an inclusive educational environment. “Our support is unwavering for the OCDSB's decision to cultivate a learning atmosphere where all students, regardless of their heritage, are empowered to excel free from the shadow of discrimination,” she stated. “Their recent decision goes beyond merely meeting the immediate requirements of pro-Palestinian students; it recognizes and addresses the often-ignored wider issue of systemic racism.” Ewais further highlighted the importance of creating a safe space for Palestinian students to freely discuss and express their views on critical topics such as identity, the Nakba, settler colonialism in Palestine, and their cultural heritage, without the fear of negative consequences.

Previous and recent incidents within educational settings have underscored the urgent necessity for roles specifically designed to combat anti-Palestinian racism. At the heart of these incidents are actions taken by school personnel that have raised concerns among students and communities. For instance, a principal in an OCDSB public school requested an elementary student to remove a Palestinian flag from their profile picture. Additionally, an educator affiliated with the OCDSB faced criticism for social media posts implying that expressions of pro-Palestinian sentiment equate to supporting terrorism. Similar issues have surfaced in other school boards as well: students in Halifax faced reprimands for wearing keffiyehs, and the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) at one point suggested there was a problem with wearing "Free Palestine" t-shirts. .  The equity coaches hired by the OCDSB will provide much-needed support for students , ensuring that their voices are respected within the education environment.

Looking forward, the ARPCF urges other school boards across Canada to follow the OCDSB's example by implementing similar initiatives. Furthermore, the ARPCF calls on the OCDSB to create and adopt an anti-APR strategy as part of their DEI mandate. Establishing equity coach positions is an essential initial step; however, ongoing efforts are necessary to tackle the underlying causes of discrimination and bias in our schools. The ARPCF is committed to working alongside educational institutions, students, and communities to foster a more inclusive and equitable education system for everyone.


About the ARPCF – The mandate of the Anti-Racism Program of the CJPME Foundation (ARPCF) is to create public awareness about racism in Canada.  This mandate falls in line with the Foundation’s broader purpose of monitoring and combating manifestations of racism, xenophobia, and discrimination by increasing public awareness of such biases.

For more information, please contact Jamila Ewais, 514-389-8668
ARPCF, [email protected]

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