Sadly, York Region District School Board has been subject to hate mail. It comes in different forms: email, social media and their messaging platforms and, sometimes, through traditional mail. Approximately four years ago, we started receiving hate mail that contained anti-Black racism and antisemitism. While no physical threats were contained in the messages, the level of racism was disturbing and we contacted York Regional Police (YRP), who opened an investigation. Mostly, these letters contain cut out newspaper clippings of our anti-racism work and addressed to the Director of Education or specific members of the Board’s senior team. Every time we receive such a letter, we contact YRP and provide them with the evidence. As has been reported through the media, regrettably, recently we received another newspaper clipping, and for the first time targeting an employee who is not part of the senior team. We immediately contacted York Regional Police and provided the evidence. We should have immediately contacted that employee, however, it took us a week to do so and our outreach followed the contact to the employee made by YRP. We have now offered that employee an apology and are providing all reasonable and appropriate supports for that individual. We know incidents of anti-Black racism cause hurt, and we have to respond even to those that originate outside our organization. We are sorry for the hurt and harm caused by this incident of anti-Black racism and the delay in alerting the employee.
In response to this incident, we are finalizing a protocol to outline actions and responsibilities when such incidents occur to be better equipped to support victims. We hope never to have to use it.
We know our employees, students and families expect us to react sooner and to centre our actions on supporting victims of hate. We have those expectations for ourselves too, we’re sorry we did not meet them this time. These incidents serve to strengthen our resolve to implement our Dismantling Anti-Black Racism strategy and continue to address systemic barriers for students and staff. If you witness or are subject to any form of hate, including anti-Black racism, we encourage you to speak to a trusted adult or use our Report-It tool for online reporting available on the homepage of our Board and school websites.