Ontario Combatting Islamophobia in Schools
June 29, 2021
TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing in a plan to counter Islamophobia and ensure classrooms are free from discrimination. Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Kaleed Rasheed, MPP for Mississauga East-Cooksville and Associate Minister of Digital Government, announced that in collaboration with community partners, funding will be provided for initiatives to support Muslim students and families with an emphasis on enhancing resources and training for educators, targeted supports for students, and digital resources for parents. According to the most up to date data from Statistics Canada, hate crimes have been on the rise in Canada, with a nine per cent increase in anti-Muslim attacks in 2019, when compared to the previous year. Tragic and disturbing reports and incidents across Canada and the world over the past years underscore the need for action. “It is unacceptable that many Muslim students continue to face discrimination in our schools, on our playgrounds and in communities across this country,” said Minister Lecce. “That is why we are investing and partnering with community leaders — who are leading this effort— to counter racism and better support Ontario’s Muslim students and their families. For Premier Ford, Minister Rasheed and myself, we believe in our core that every student deserves to feel safe, respected, and engaged in learning in inclusive classrooms.” As part of the Safe Return to Class fund, Ontario’s government is providing $225,000 to the Muslim Association of Canada to create digital resources for educators, students and parents to raise awareness about Islamophobia. These resources will provide information about Islamic practices, values and misconceptions, root causes of Islamophobia and ways to help end Islamophobia, racism and discrimination. Ontario is also providing $75,000 to the National Council of Canadian Muslims to facilitate outreach and engagement with Muslim parents and families, with a focus on newcomer communities. These engagements will provide information on school supports and will provide culturally relevant resources to enhance well-being for families and help Muslim students prepare for the return to school in September.
In 2019, Ontario’s government released a revised elementary Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum including new and enhanced learning related to healthy relationships, and how to be inclusive, respectful and accepting.
As part of the Safe Return to Class Fund, the Ontario government is directing $6.4 million to support equity-related projects. This includes funding to community organizations to address anti-Asian hate, antisemitism, and Islamophobia, support for Black, Indigenous and 2SLGBTQI+ students as well as support for newcomer youth, parents and families to enhance access to school and community resources, and culturally appropriate mental health and well-being supports for youth, families and teachers.
For the upcoming school year, Ontario’s Priorities and Partnership Funding will include a fund of more than $288 million for approximately 150 initiatives that include a focus on strengthening math skills, access to mental health supports, anti-racism and support for children with disabilities.
It was recently announced by the government that for the 2021-2022 school year, mental health funding for students will rise to $80 million, representing a four time increase from 2017-2018.
In March 2021, the Ontario Government announced a two-year investment of $1.6 million on a new Anti-Racism and Anti-Hate Grant Program that will focus on increasing awareness on the impact of racism and hate.
On June 4, 2020, the government launched the Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity, a new advisory group which provides advice on how young people can overcome social and economic barriers and achieve success.
To support teacher hiring practices that are fair, consistent, and transparent, and to ensure a strong and equitable workforce for Ontario’s publicly funded education system, Ontario replaced previous Hiring Practices regulation with Policy and Program Memorandum No. 165: Teacher Hiring Practices. School boards are now able to hire based on merit, diversity and the unique needs of the school, while providing protocols to avoid concerns of nepotism. Quotes "Every student deserves the opportunity to learn and succeed in our schools, free from Islamophobia and any kind of hate or discrimination. Our government is committed to investing in initiatives that support our young people and work to ensure they feel safe and are successful, no matter their background. " - Parm Gill Minister of Multiculturalism and Citizenship "No parent wants their child to experience the pain and humiliation of discrimination at any time, and especially not in the classroom. These initiatives in our schools and communities will help ensure that our students can thrive in an environment free of discrimination, so they can focus on learning and growing. We are sending a strong message that hate speech, bigotry, racism or discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated in Ontario’s public schools and I thank the Minister for taking decisive action in this regard. " - Kaleed Rasheed MPP for Mississauga East-Cooksville and Associate Minister of Digital Government "The National Council of Canadian Muslims welcomes further provincial funding to challenge Islamophobia across the education sector. This is an important first step as we recognize that systemic action and commitment is necessary to support the safety and wellbeing of staff, students and families. " - Mustafa Farooq Chief Executive Officer, National Council of Canadian Muslims "MAC welcomes its partnership with the Ministry of Education to develop and deliver resources to counter Islamophobia through education and awareness for students, parents and educators. The horrific terror attack in London Ontario, that has left Muslim students across the province feeling vulnerable, has made this important initiative even more urgent. The Government of Ontario's approach to working with community organizations, like MAC, in addressing the challenges of Islamophobia is a step in the right direction. " - Sharaf Sharafeldin Executive Director of the Muslim Association of Canada Additional Resources