School board investigating allegations of anti-Black racism at Toronto school

The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) says it has hired an external investigator to look into allegations of anti-Black racism at a high school in the city’s east end.

The allegations against Notre Dame High School stem from a house party in the fall of 2019 in which a student made a racially insensitive comment on social media. 

The three former students behind the accusations say the issue was not dealt with properly at the time and that it highlights a deep-rooted problem within the school.

Several Notre Dame grads spoke to CTV News Toronto on behalf of current students because those who still attend the school fear possible retribution.

“I noticed a lot of the things that the current students and the girls that graduated after me were saying were things that I went through,” Sydni Taffe told CTV News Toronto on Monday.

The 2016 graduate says she thought the issues had been fixed before she left, but others say that doesn’t appear to be the case.

“Usually it’s the same lip service, usually it's like “yeah we're going to look into it, yeah we're going to do something,” but nothing ever gets done,” Flora Nwakobi , who graduated in June of 2019, said. 

As a result, some 200 letters written by alumni, current students and parents were sent to the TCDSB demanding that the issue be looked in to.

In a statement issued to CTV News Toronto, the TCDSB said that there is no place for anti-Black racism in their schools.

“We acknowledge that anti-Black racism has devastating affects on individuals, members of our school community, and our society,” the statement reads. “This matter will be undergoing an external investigation by Rubin Thomlinson LLP.”

However, Taffe says that the incident last fall is part of a larger problem at Notre Dame.

“I noticed a lot of students of colour were pushed towards the applied classes, “she said.

As well, the students say that prior attempts to hold a Black History Month were tightly controlled by the school’s administration. 

“It kind of just feels like a slap in the face,” Chantelle Cruzat-Whervin said. 

“Because you're trying to run this Black History Month assembly, you're trying to teach them about your history but they don't want anything to do with it,” the 2017 graduate added.