I stand today in solidarity with Black community leaders in Ontario who rallied at Queen’s Park this week to oppose a growing threat to anti-racism education, and to equity, diversity, and inclusion training in Ontario educational system, and more broadly in Ontario’s public institutions.
OPSEU/SEFPO has a longstanding commitment to dismantling anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and all other forms of racism. We are committed to continuing our work to remove barriers that hold back so many racialized OPSEU/SEFPO members and members who belong to other equity deserving communities.
While conversations during anti-racism and equity, diversity, and inclusion training can be difficult, it is important to listen and remain focused on understanding that members of racialized communities face racism every day in Ontario. To fail to continue to support such training would signal to racialized members of our communities that they are not seen or heard, and that their lived experiences aren’t valued. We will continue to ensure that our facilitators who provide anti-racism training to our members, are supported and are confident that their union has their backs, throughout this process, especially now.
In April 2022, the OPSEU/SEFPO Annual Convention passed major changes to our Constitution to recognize the prevalence of systemic racism affecting Black and Indigenous members, including the following addition to the Aims and Purposes of the Union (Article 4):
To actively identify and dismantle anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, and all forms of racism and discrimination within its systems and structures so that members have full access to services and can fully participate in the union.
This means that in all of our work regulating labour relations, organizing members, and improving working conditions, OPSEU/SEFPO is committed, as part of its purpose as a union, to dismantling anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and all forms of racism and discrimination in all our member and employment systems. Not only does this include the important work of ensuring that anti-racism, and equity, diversity, and inclusion training is available to our members. This also means fighting for good collective agreements. It means training and educating elected leaders and staff to demand more for all workers, including for part-time, casual, and other precarious workers, many of whom are members of equity deserving groups.
At the very end – this is what solidarity looks like.
JP Hornick, President, OPSEU/SEFPO