Canada: School board in Toronto to decide whether to formally address race-based harassment
Toronto: The school board in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, will decide on Wednesday whether to formally address race-based harassment.
The proposal will come before the 22-member Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the country’s largest, on March 8 after being passed by its governance and policy committee a month ago.
The motion was moved by TDSB trustee Yalini Rajakulasingam and seconded by her colleague Anu Srikandaraja.
Reasons cited for the proposal are that “caste-based persecution is experienced by various faith communities in South Asia and the Caribbean” and that “documented caste-based discrimination has increased in the diaspora, including in Toronto”. It states that “caste can be identified by a person’s last name, family occupation, diet and region of origin, but self-identification can be vulnerable if caste-based discrimination is not recognised”.
It seeks to create a working group of activists “who self-identify as Dalits and are from caste-oppressed groups”, who have the “power to define caste-based discrimination, lead the curriculum, and address caste oppression and professional development”. There will be a mandate of “Directive Development”. for the employees”.
TDSB has acknowledged that there is no data available for examples of caste-based discrimination within the system. However, Rajakulasingam argued during a committee meeting in February that such a system would facilitate that process.
Rajakulasingam and Srikandaraja are yet to respond to Hindustan Times’ queries in this regard.
The proposal has angered Indo-Canadian groups and caused them concern. A statement by the Canadian Organization for Hindu Heritage Education (COHHE) said the “caste proposal singles out South Asians for scrutiny” and as such, it “stereotypes South Asians, creating prejudice against them”. paves the way for hatred and discrimination”.
“We are also concerned about due process, which means overall fairness of the policy. We are incredulous that the SA (South Asian) community was not consulted and the motion was driven by activists.
A petition launched by the organization states that it stands against caste harassment of any kind, but “the TDSB reports that it has never received any complaints about ‘caste harassment’,” it says. stated that “there is little evidence or reports of ‘caste harassment’ in Toronto and Canada for that matter”.
To express their opposition to the proposal, community activists are planning a demonstration involving students and parents of residents in front of the TDSB headquarters in Toronto before the board meeting begins on Wednesday.