Miller on disrupting the systemic Black racism that exists in the Halton District School Board

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 28th, 2020



For Stuart Miller, Director of Education of the Halton District School Board, it was a problem he really didn’t need but when it landed on his desk – he moved quickly to get to the bottom of it and ensure there was a resolution.

Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller, Director of Education of the Halton District School Board

It took a couple of weeks – he met with the people who were impacted by what Miller called Anti-Black discrimination. “I had to determine where it happened and how it happened.”

A student at Oakville Trafalgar high school felt she had been discriminated against because of the colour of her skin. She posted her views on Instagram – they went viral.

Miller  learned quickly that resolving the issue for a student wasn’t enough.  “I believe our Board has levels of systemic racism that need to be rooted out” said Miller who had all the Halton District School Board teachers take part in a full day of anti-discrimination training during a PD day in September”, adding that there will be a lot more training in the months and years ahead.

“There will be no more excuses or just talking.  I want to disrupt the practices and habits that our teachers have let develop. We owe that to the students who attend our schools.”

The HDSB has always had an Equity department.  When Miller was appointed Director of Education more than six years ago it was headed up by one part time principal.  Today that unit has a full time principal in place – he will be very busy.

“We will be rolling out an Equity Action and Accommodation Plan that will help people realize the biases they have and just what a bias is – they need to learn just what this stuff is” said Miller.  The Equity department has been expanded and Miller has hired Jewel Amoh who holds a doctorate in law to  advise him on equity issues.

Stephen Lewis

Stephen Lewis

A number of years ago Miller had put plans in place to have former provincial NDP leader Stephen Lewis speak to teachers across the Board.  The event got cancelled on two occasions – mostly due to conflicts and administrative reasons.

“We are going ahead with that this year” said Miller.  “This time it will be done virtually and I am going to ensure that every student of colour in the HDSB has an opportunity to take part.  There isn’t a more compelling voice than that of Stephen Lewis when it comes to battling discrimination.

Bringing about changes in the way a large organization handles relationship problems is no small matter. The way we behave is ingrained and we often don’t realize the impact we are having.

We are now a society that is much more diverse culturally: adapting to the changes does not happen because a memo was sent out.

Watching how Stuart Miller shifts the way discrimination issues in Burlington, Oakville and Milton are handled and at the same time getting to the point where it just doesn’t happen is going to be interesting.

BLM march June

It was a quiet disciplined march to city hall to say that Black Lives Matter.

Last year there was a march on Burlington’s city hall. A reported 4,000 young people quietly walked along New Street and sat on the street in front of city hall.

The Black Lives Matter signs made it clear that these young people were getting it. Now to spread that understanding throughout all of Halton…

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2 comments to Miller on disrupting systemic Black racism that exists in the Halton District School Board

  • Helen Donohoe

    Stephen Lewis has spoken on discrimination countless times. He must have memorized his words by now. He has addressed the parents of many of the teachers in the public schools and even the grandparents of current students. He must be wondering when they will ever learn.

  • Penny Hersh

    It is not only systemic Black racism that the Director of Education of the Halton District School has to address, there is also anti-semitism in the Halton District.