Waterloo Catholic District School Board

Committed to Disrupt Anti-Black Racism

“In our Catholic/Christian tradition, we have a moral imperative to act intentionally to ensure those we serve –staff, students and community—are treated with respect and dignity.  We work intentionally to disrupt oppressive systems for the benefit of future generations. “

That statement is not new. It is not in response to community criticism or a media question. It is our stated position, accessible on our website EDI at WCDSB and defines our work in equity, diversity and inclusion.  It has been a cornerstone of our work this year and for years previous.

In the last week, that commitment has been called into question.  I will not break  confidentiality or privacy for the student or the staff involved in a specific situation where police responded at a school.  An independent investigation will soon occur and we welcome it and will cooperate fully.  We hope it will be thorough but also be done as quickly as possible, so the facts are understood, and the journey to a stronger system can continue.

But I want to be crystal clear when it comes to my position on systemic racism as an individual, as director, and that of our board.  Across society, our structures are systemically racist.  Our organization is part of those structures. We need to acknowledge that systemic racism, and act on it.

It is our responsibility, as educators, as those with a duty of care for students, and as Christians, to truly examine how and what happens that disproportionately affects certain populations. Further, I believe that society does have a problem criminalizing young Black people and each of us need to consider any part we play in that and look at the changes that must happen.

I want to acknowledge that I inadvertently made a statement that did not represent this deep personal or organizational commitment to disrupt anti-Black racism. I responded to a media question and in my attempt to state that we should not pre-determine the findings of the independent investigation, I instead indicated that I did not acknowledge the presence of systemic racism.  I unreservedly apologize for that comment.  It does not reflect my personal position, nor the position of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

I also want to say that I am deeply sorry for those who saw my statement as not acknowledging their own lived experiences with anti-Black racism. I sincerely regret any pain I may have caused you.

As director, I do believe in the good work we do in our system and I believe in our dedicated staff. My experience tells me that the students of this system are generally well served and that our staff hold themselves to a very high standard.  But we are not perfect and when we make mistakes – we try to own them and address them.

Without question, we know we have work to do as an organization—work we have committed to.  But the system and larger provincial policies also require reform to bring all students to their full potential.  I know that belief is shared by those speaking out on behalf of Black students.  It is something we share.  And I genuinely hope that shared belief to support students and bring them to success as a child of God is a starting point for us to work together and collaborate to make that vision a reality – to truly serve each child with care and compassion in order to bring them to their fullest potential.

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To respect the independent investigation, this statement is the sole statement to media. Interviews will not be provided.