February 10, 2022
Dear Cecil Roach,
Associate Director of Education, Equitable Outcomes and Schools
Re: Speaker Session: Anti-Racist Pedagogy; Transforming Education
The Working Group Against Jew-Hatred (AJH) is a coalition of over a dozen grassroot organizations specializing in antisemitism education. Together with the broader community, we stand against all forms of intolerance. It has been brought to our attention that the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) will be hosting a meeting on Anti-Racist Pedagogy on February 22, 2022. We sincerely applaud the objectives of YRDSB in conducting this meeting, and we are happy to offer our considerable collective expertise to help with the YRDSB's equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.
We are, however, alarmed by the selection of Dr. Vidya Shah as a discussion leader for this meeting. Dr. Shah has an extensive history on social media of anti-Israel commentary, particularly on her Twitter account. In her social media history, Dr. Shah has supported the mis-characterization of Israel as an apartheid state. Dr. Shah has also expressed support for Javier Davila, a Toronto District School Board (TDSB) staff member who back in May 2021, sent out a mass email to TDSB colleagues containing over five links to pro-terrorist websites (i.e., websites promoting the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a designated terrorist organization according to Public Safety Canada).
The TDSB Integrity Commissioner herself stated: "I have reviewed the materials in their entirety, and I confirm the conclusion of the HRO, and I find that some of the material in the May Mailouts, in particular the live links, could reasonably be considered to contain antisemitic material, references, or allusions (overt or subtle), could reasonably be seen to be contributing to antisemitism."
For this reason, and many others, Dr. Shah could be viewed as an inappropriate person to contribute to a discussion involving anti-racist pedagogy, curriculum, and learning environments.
For a more in-depth review of Dr. Shah’s antagonism towards the Jewish community, please contact our representative to set up a virtual meeting.
We urge you to review Dr Shah’s comments and reconsider her participation in this important event.
The TDSB has instituted a comprehensive vetting process for external speakers (found here: 1709.pdf (tdsb.on.ca). We politely request that you use your department to request the implementation of a similar process at YRDSB.
The Working Group Against Jew-Hatred
Cc: Louise Sirisko, Director of Education; Allan Tam; Chair of the Board
About the Working Group Against Jew-Hatred (AJH)
The Working Group Against Jew-Hatred (AJH) is a group of grassroot organizations concerned with the rise of antisemitism in Ontario.