NGO: Canadian Schools Discriminating against Palestinian Students

NGO: Canadian Schools Discriminating against Palestinian Students

People chant and wave flags during a demonstration in Canada's Toronto, Ontario, to voice support for the people of Palestine during Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip in May 2021. ( Photo: MEE)

The Palestinian Canadian Congress (PCC), an Ottawa-based not-for-profit organization composed of Palestinian-Canadian individuals and groups, said this week it has filed a claim with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) that the local Ministry of Education and two Ontario school boards discriminated against Palestinian students and the broader Palestinian community.

PCC said in a statement quoted by Palestinian news agency WAFA that the discrimination was based on the grounds of race when the two schools suppressed a student video that spoke about the everyday hardship of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more of this type of anti-Palestinian racism in the functioning of Ontario’s schools,” said Congress vice-president, James Kafieh. “When you suppress a video about Palestinian life under occupation, you are sending a very clear message to Palestinian students and their parents – you are saying that they do not matter. We need an action plan to eliminate this racism once and for all,” he said.

In July 2020, the parent of a student who was taking the Grade 10 Civics and Citizenship online summer school course complained to the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) about the content of a student video which she felt was “spreading falsehoods to impressionable teens” regarding the Israel/Palestine issue.

“We felt this application was important given the rising tide of anti-Palestinian racism in schools right across the country,” said Stephen Ellis from the Canada-based Legal Centre for Palestine. “The government and its friends in the Israel lobby have to understand that Palestinians will no longer tolerate this racism and that a remedy exists for the suppression of this video under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Apartheid Israel should not be directing the Ontario curriculum.”

The application names the Congress, the Ministry of Education, the Simcoe District School Board and the Ottawa-Carlton District School Board as parties.

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