March 15, 2019

Message from Director Joshua to staff re: events in New Zealand

The following message was distributed to all Peel District School Board staff:

Dear Colleagues,

This morning, many of us are learning about the tragic news coming out of New Zealand—acts of violence against members of the Muslim community during Friday worship services. The acts have taken the lives of many, critically injured others and left the world shaken by its senselessness.

Our hearts are heavy as we share our sincere condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones. And we stand in support of our Muslim community as they face yet another unacceptable act of violence. Flags in Peel District School Board schools and work sites will be lowered to half-mast today and through the weekend in an expression of support.

When incidents like this happen, we support students, staff and community by offering resources. We are doing the same today despite it being March Break because we know the support is needed.

To help our community feel safe, valued and included, please find:

Break the Behaviour online resources and resources from the Ontario Human Rights Commission to address Islamophobia, may also be helpful.

If you're feeling personally affected by these events, please seek support from your administrator/manager/supervisor. You're also welcome to contact Homewood Health's Employee and Family Assistance program.

The rise of Islamophobia is of urgent concern and the attacks in New Zealand reinforce the deadly consequences of unchecked racism and hatred. As a board, we have been working with the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) on an anti-Islamophobia resource and hope to share that with the system in the coming weeks.

NCCM reminds us that Canadian Muslims are resilient, but there is much we can do to create and maintain safe and inclusive spaces for all. I know that each day you put the Peel board's shared values into action—to be caring, cooperative, honest, respectful, responsible and inclusive. By teaching our students values of respect and inclusion, we work towards a day when Islamophobia and disturbing acts like this are no longer a part of our history.

As always, our greatest resource is our kindness and the depth of caring we have for students, families and each other. I know all of you will do what we always do to support students and each other—listen, validate how individuals are feeling, and offer support through a compassionate response.

Thank you for continuing to inspire hope and shine light during times of darkness.

Peter Joshua

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