January 2, 2023
Ms Lyra Evans, Chair, OCDSB
And Trustees of OCDSB
Dear Chair and Trustees of the Ottawa Carlton District School Board;
Firstly, Ms Evans, please accept our sincerest congratulations on your being appointed Chair of the Ottawa-Carlton District School Board. We look forward to working with you and the other Trustees.
The Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation is pleased to note that the Trustees of OCDSB heard the concerns and experiences of the Jewish students in schools under your jurisdiction. We strongly support the notice of motion that was given regarding the recommendation to employ a Jewish Equity Officer to address antisemitism. We urge your consideration of several important factors as you move forward on this motion.
The recruitment committee must include representatives of the mainstream Jewish community, not fringe elements which might actually oppose the work of this new position.
Since the OCDSB, like all School boards in Ontario, is expected to act on the IHRA definition of antisemitism as adopted by both senor levels of government, the new hire must be someone who understands and upholds the full embodiment of IHRA and will use it a guide for identifying and combating antisemitism. To do less will mean that antisemitism will prevail.
An action plan with specific timelines and a budget should be developed before the end of this academic year.
Members of the community should be kept informed of all steps taken, all incidents reported, all training, discipline and policies that follow from the board’s commitment to combat and eradicate antisemitism.
A priority of the new position, in collaboration with the Equity and or Human Rights Departments of OCDSB, should be an audit of reported instances of antisemitism, including that found in texts and library books, articles and videos, websites and teaching materials that stereotype Jews, cast aspersion on Judaism, or deny Jewish indigeneity to Israel or misrepresent Jewish history, including the Holocaust.
Accountability should include the public reporting of the work of the new position and that of the OCDSB in total, in addressing antisemtism; metrics are required.
Thanks for your consideration and please feel free to call upon CAEF for any assistance. We wish you every success in the new year.
Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation