Ontario Expanding Learning on Black HistoryPublished on February 18, 2022
Partnership will Strengthen Black History Learning in the Classroom
VAUGHAN — Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, announced the Ontario government is investing to support the development of curriculum-aligned resources to assist educators in teaching about Black experiences and contributions to Canada.
In partnership with the government, the African Canadian National Coalition against Hate, Oppression and Racism (ANCHOR) will provide classroom-ready resources and training aligned to the Social Studies, Grades 1 to 6, and History and Geography, Grades 7 and 8, curriculum.
This $300,000 investment will include promoting Black history, such as raising awareness about Black Canadian leaders and diversifying the individuals students learn about in business, politics, sciences, the arts and democracy. This initiative will help build greater understanding of the presence and positive role Black individuals have played as part of Canada’s story, heritage and identity.
The need to strengthen knowledge about the contributions of Black people to the country and world is critical. Relevant examples from history include: creating greater awareness that soldiers of African descent made sacrifices in wartime as far back as the War of 1812 while serving in defence of Upper Canada; honouring the legacy of Lincoln Alexander, Canada’s first Black MP and Cabinet Minister; and learning about individuals like Mathieu Da Costa, whose presence in Canada dates back to the early 1600s and who helped to shape Canada’s heritage and identity since his arrival as a navigator and interpreter.
While Black History Month is a time to learn more about these Canadian stories, the Ontario government is committed to expanding year-long learning to better promote and inspire students around the nation-building contributions that Black Canadians and their communities have made to Canada’s history and future prosperity.
“Strengthening Black history in the classroom is part of our government’s plan to ensure the individuals we learn about and the lessons we teach students better reflect Canada’s diversity,” said Minister Lecce. “As we mark Black History Month, we are expanding access to resources through Black-led partners that will help the next generation learn and celebrate the contributions and histories of Black Canadians — from Lincoln Alexander to Viola Desmond.”
With the new funding, teachers will have access to resources that support them in providing curriculum-aligned instruction in a way that celebrates the contributions of Black Canadians and recognizes the discrimination and challenges many have faced.
“Black Canadians have made incredible contributions to the economic and cultural growth of our province and country,” said Shernett Martin, Executive Director of ANCHOR. “ANCHOR is proud to partner with the Ontario government to ensure Black perspectives are part of the learning experience for students while fostering more welcoming and respectful school environments.”
The new agreement with ANCHOR includes the development of the following resources and professional learning supports in English and French:
- resource documents that will include articles, case studies and materials for educators to help navigate student learning from a Black perspective
- toolkits to provide educators with discussion guides, guided prompts, lesson plans, videos, photos, exhibits and more
- webinars that provide examples and recommendations to help educators enrich their teaching practices.
The announcement builds on ongoing initiatives and program investments designed to improve education outcomes for Black students and break down systemic barriers.
Previously, the province provided $280,000 to ANCHOR in 2021 as part of the Safe Return to Class Fund to support the creation of a culturally relevant summer learning program for students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 to increase the engagement of Black students in their education. And in 2020, Ontario launched the Graduation Coach Program for Black Students, in which graduation coaches act as mentors to help improve the academic achievement and mental well-being outcomes of the high school students they work with.
- As part of its efforts to ensure all students can reach their full potential, beginning in September 2022, all Grade 9 subjects will be offered in one stream. De-streaming Grade 9 is helping to create the conditions for all students to be successful, to be prepared for the senior program in secondary school and to pursue any postsecondary pathway they choose.
- In June 2021, to improve education outcomes for Black students and break down systemic barriers, the Ontario government introduced a new tool for school boards and made available $1.43 million in programs that help address policies and practices that have had adverse impacts on Ontario’s Black students, as well as support anti-racism work underway in schools across Ontario.
- For the 2021-22 school year, the ministry included anti-racism and anti-discrimination training as one of the mandatory professional activities (PA) day topics to be implemented by school boards prior to the start of the school year.
- In October 2020, the government announced that O. Reg. 274/12 Hiring Practices was revoked, and that teacher hiring in Ontario will now be dictated by merit, diversity and the unique needs of the school and communities.
- In July 2020, the Ontario government announced bold new changes to the education system to address racism and inequity in schools.