The following is a statement of solidarity from the Educational Resource Facilitators of Peel (ERFP) and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
The appalling disruption of a regularly-scheduled Peel District School Board meeting on March 22 by a small group of persons holding racist views against Muslims should be of grave concern to all Canadians who believe in justice, tolerance and equality. This Islamophobic disturbance was not only rude but potentially criminal. It was a painful wake-up call that obligates each of us to intensify our fight against intolerance and hate whenever those evil impulses rear their ugly head.
OPSEU and ERFP condemn, in the strongest terms, this heinous act at the Peel school board. On behalf of 130,000 OPSEU members and 4,000 ERFP members, we add our collective voice to those who have already denounced this cowardly act by a tiny band of misfits.
Schools are spaces which should welcome and nurture young minds. They must be places that provide students with an environment that fosters intellectual growth, while at the same time proclaiming values and principles of inclusivity, tolerance, acceptance, and respect of diversity and differences.
The ERFP and OPSEU recognize and uphold the principle that every Canadian enjoys fundamental rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.
The denial of a student’s right to religious worship is discriminatory and implies that students are not entitled to the same right of religious worship as adults. The aggressive action that day in Peel Region was a hateful attack on vulnerable and defenseless students. OPSEU and ERFP repudiate it in the strongest terms possible.
Classrooms across Ontario are a model to the world. They represent the finest qualities of Canada – a land that is home to people from all races, cultural backgrounds and faiths. We are justifiably proud of our human right laws and legislation that aim to maintain safe spaces for all.
The hateful behavior of a few must never be repeated. It is our collective duty to stand guard against it in the future.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas