Centre for excellence ‘celebrates’ Black voices

York Region District School Board’s (YRDSB) new Centre for Black Student Excellence promises to make “real and transformative” change while “celebrating” Black voices.

The centre is launching with a new website hub that offers videos, podcasts, resources, programs and information designed to dismantle anti-Black racism and celebrate Black excellence.

“The creation of the Centre for Black Student Excellence reflects our focus on making real and transformative change in our system,” says Associate Director of Education Cecil Roach. “The ultimate goal is to work to eliminate barriers that YRDSB data shows have resulted in stark disparities and disproportionalities for Black students’ achievement and well-being.”

Darcie Sutherland, principal of Dismantling Anti-Black Racism, echoes that enthusiasm. “We are excited to introduce this space that celebrates Black voices and Black excellence and provides a hub of information for students, families and community in support of our ongoing work to dismantle anti-Black racism,” he says. “We look forward to continuing to grow and enhance this online space.”

The YRDSB established an Anti-Black Racism Steering Committee in June 2019 with the goal of developing a strategy to dismantle anti-Black racism at the YRDSB. “This central hub of information is part of our ongoing work to implement the actions outlined in the Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy,” says Director Louise Sirisko.

Co-developed by York Region Black community leaders, YRDSB staff and in consultation with students, the strategy features seven priorities, which include creating a “culturally relevant and Black-affirming” curriculum and hiring and supporting Black staff. The strategy says the public education system evolved within an historical context of white supremacy, colonialism and anti-Black racism, which in turn informed school board policies and practices as well as individual attitudes toward Black students, families and staff.

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