OPEN LETTER TO MINISTER RE: Alleged Islamophobia and anti-black racism at York Region District School Board

OPEN LETTER TO MINISTER RE: Alleged Islamophobia and anti-black racism at York Region District School Board

October 31, 2016


Honourable Mitzie Hunter
Minister of Education
Ministry of Education
22nd Floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1L2

— and —

Honourable Indira Naidoo-Harris
Associate Minister of Education
Ministry of Education
22nd Floor, Mowat Block
900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1L2

Dear Honourable Ministers:

Re: Allegations of Islamophobia and anti-black racism, York Region District School Board

We write with respect to the saga at the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) over alleged Islamophobic posts by principal Ghada Sadaka. We join the parents who are deeply concerned about the mental and physical wellbeing of their children.

Two trustees, Allan Tam and Billy Pang, have also joined the growing chorus asking for transparency and questioning whether proper protocols were followed by the Board.

As you are aware, the lack of transparency and accountability with regards to their investigation and any actions they may have undertaken to address the unprofessional and hateful statements was even profiled by various media outlets. This is deeply troubling. This is especially disturbing when contextualized within the growing incidents of Islamophobia within society – something that the Anti-Racism Directorate has committed to addressing.

As community leaders, we are even more perturbed to see this as part of what may be a larger problem. We are deeply saddened to note that there appears to be a systemic issue at play in York Region as black families have also been alleging issues of anti-black racism within the school system. They too have been feeling ignored and dismissed. In fact, in that context while Minister Sandals said that the allegations were “disturbing” (Toronto Star Feb 23), nothing appears to have been done to address it.

Apart from these allegations, it appears that a culture of fear continues to grow within the YRDSB. If these allegations are not investigated thoroughly and dealt with in a transparent and judicious manner, the resulting loss of trust will only lead to loss of complete confidence in the system.

We hope you agree that all children, staff and teachers are entitled to a safe, inclusive & accepting school environment free from fear and hate.

We wish to bring to your attention the provincial code of conduct pertaining to safe schools. Specifically the code provides the following:


School community members must not:

– engage in hate propaganda or other types of behaviour caused by hate or bias

We are now asking you to please intervene and to work with the concerned communities to re-establish public confidence in the YRDSB.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you. You can contact Sadaf Siddiqui, Naeem Siddiqui and Amira ElGhawaby from the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) who are copied on this email.



Community Organizations & Leaders:

1) Hamid Akbar, Tax Auditor & Board Member at Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada (APMC)
2) Hamna Anwar, Law Student, Co-Chair of Muslim Law Students Association at University of Ottawa
3) Sadat Anwar, Muslim Debate Initiative (Canada)
4) Shaykh Yusuf Badat, Imam, Islamic Foundation of Toronto
5) Mohamed Bhabha, Chair, Muslim Seniors Circle of Halton/Peel
6) Dr. Katherine Bullock, PhD, Community Leader
7) Ahmad Gaied, Executive Vice-President, Ontario Federation of Labour
8) Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director, National Council of Canadian Muslims
9) Taha Ghayyur, Writer & Leadership Trainer, Community Leader
10) Hussein Hamdani, Vice Chair and Legal Counsel, North American Spiritual Revival
11) Nabeel Hasan, Founder of Muslim Scholarship Fund, Consultant / Community Worker and Social Activist
12) Mohammed Hashim, Senior Organizer, Toronto and York Region Labour Council
13) Jamal Hassan, Director, Government and Corporate Relation, Voice of Islam
14) Dr. Tabasum Hussain, Street Da’wah Toronto Group
15) Abdul Huq Ingar, Community Leader/Activist
16) Yusuf Ingar, Community Leader/Activist
17) Anela Jadunandan, Community Activist
18) Samira Kanji, President, Noor Cultural Centre
19) Khalid S . Khan, IT Consultant and Community Leader
20) Nader Khan, Singer-Songwriter, Arts Educator, Social Activist
21) Saleha Khan, Family Honour Project, London
22) Sheema Khan, PhD, Patent Agent, Writer, Monthly columnist for the Globe and Mail
23) Rabia Khedr, Executive Director, Muslim Council of Peel, and Executive Director, CAM-D, Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities
24) Shaikh Ahmad Kutty, Resident Scholar/Senior Lecturer, Islamic Institute of Toronto
25) Dr. Laura Mae Lindo, Director, Diversity and Equity, Wilfrid Laurier University
26) Farrah Marfatia, Vice-Principal, High School, Private School
27) Fizza Mir, Educator, Peel, Community Leader
28) Abdussalam Nakua, Community Organizer and Activitist
29) Muneeb Nasir, President, Olive Tree Foundation
30) Sandra Noe, President, Board of Directors, Federation of Muslim Women
31) Towhid Noman, OCT, PSP, President, Ontario Bangladeshi Educators Community Support Services
32) Towhid Noman, OCT, PSP, President, Ontario Bangladeshi Educators Community Support Services
33) Uzma Panchbhaya, Vice Principal, Elementary School (Private)
34) Zuned Panchbhaya, Imam & Teacher, Private School
35) Yaseen Poonah, President, Naseeha Muslim Youth Helpline
36) Dr. Saqib Qureshi, Entrepreneur, author, and Community Leader
37) Vaqar Raees, Nuclear Safety Officer and community activist, President, Friends Indeed Canada
38) Shazlin Rahman, Stakeholder Engagement Specialist, Inspirit Foundation
39) Naeem Siddiqi, Communications Director, Canadian Muslim Civil Liberties Association (CMCLA)
40) Farina Siddiqui, Political Action Network for Muslim Canadians (PANMC)
41) Yousuf Syed,Vice-President, Islamic Supreme Council Of Canada Toronto Chapter
42) The Canadian Council of Muslim Women – National Educators:
43) Samiya Abdi, Health Promotion Consultant
44) Binish Ahmed – Educator, Researcher, PhD Candidate, Ryerson University
45) Rimshah Ahmed, Coordinator / Writer/ Artist
46) Mayar El-Khatib, Civil Engineer, Statistician, Published Author
47) Omar El-Ziftawi, BSc, MEd., Educator
48) Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law
49) Humera Hashmi, E.A., YRDSB
50) Dr. Uzma Jamil, Researcher
51) Dr. Rima Berns-McGown, Lecturer, Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto at Mississauga
52) Shazia Javed, Filmmaker and Educator
53) Dr. Baseer U. Khan, MD, FRCS(C), P.CEO., Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
54) Ausma Zehanat Khan, Author
55) Faisal Kutty, Associate Professor, Vaparaiso University Law School, Adjunct Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School and Counsel, KSM Law
56) Drupati Maharaj, M.Ed., Diversity Consultant
57) Yasmin Merchant, Teacher
58) Muhammad Munshi, MD, Lecturer, Diagnostic Imaging, University of Toronto
59) Rabea Murtaza, Community Work College Teacher
60) Omair Quadri, Digital Editor, The Globe and Mail
61) Aurangzeb Qureshi, Policy Analyst/Writer
62) Waheeda Rahman, MA – Director Organizational Development/Diversity Expert/Leadership Coach
63) Dr. Sumairah Syed, MD, Lecturer, University of Toronto
64) Dr. Muhammad N. Yousaf, Professor of Chemistry, York University
65) Zainab Zafar, TDSB science teacher
66) Omar Zia, Teacher, PDSB
67) Dr. Jasmin Zine, Professor, Department of Sociology, Wilfrid Laurier University

Concerned Community Members:

68) Taskeen Abdul-Rawoof, Law Student at Osgoode Hall Law School, Former Teacher
69) Nabeel Ahmed, Nonprofit Professional and Urban Planning Student
70) Ghufran Ahmed, Entrepreneur
71) Zoya Alam, Lawyer
72) Qasim Ali, Associate / Lawyer, Clarity Law Group
73) Syyeda Alikhan, Retired
74) Nasreen AliKhan, Retired Civil Servant, Province of Ontario
75) Sanaa Ali-Mohammed, Community Member
76) Sadia Anjum, Former Employment Counsellor
77) Daanish Ansari, Accountant
78) Mohammad Asif, Community Member
79) Abuzar Atieque, Computer Engineer
80) Noor Baig, MA Candidate, Wilfrid Laurier University
81) Ifthikhar Barrie, IT consultant
82) Djamel Boukhira, Software Quality Test Engineer Lead.
83) Anne Brittain, Community Member
84) Jawad Chaudhry, Concerned Parent
85) Asad Chishti, Inventor at Chairs and Tables
86) Nabeel Dar, IT Manager
87) Hagar Elsayed, Law Student
88) Heather Fathi, Negotiator with Ontario Public Service Employees Union
89) Omar Hamid, Managing Director, B.D Diagnostic Inc.
90) Sadiq Hasan, CEO, Infoanaysis Systems Inc.
91) Syed Hussaini, Concerned Parent at the School (SWL)
92) Babna Islam, Parent
93) Faizan Jabbar, P.Eng, Senior Electrical Engineer
94) Nasir Jabbar, Technologist
95) Tauqeer Javaid, Engineer, Independent Entrepreneur, Platine Inc.
96) Mustafa Jilani, Lawyer
97) Muhammad Talha Johri, High School Student, York Region
98) Sofia Johri, Parent and Project Manager at eHealth Ontario
99) Waseem Johri, Engineer, Durham Region
100) Zainab Johri, High School Student, Durham Region
101) Khalidah Juman-Yassin, Concerned Community Member
102) Eiad Kassif, IT consultant
103) Sana Khawaja,Student
104) Seima Khan, Senior OD Consultant
105) Zahid Khan, Program Manager TD Bank
106) Maliha Khan, Grade 10 IB Student, Peel Board
107) Monia Khan, Grade 7 IBT Student, Peel Board
108) Hina Latif, Lawyer
109) Farheen Khan, Student
110) Nada Mabsout, Concerned Community Member
111) Tara Maharaj, Concerned Community Member
112) Mustafa Malik, CPA, CMA, Finance Manager
113) Farook Mansoor, IT Manager
114) Afsana Mansoor, Supply Chain Manager
115) Naseem Mithoowani, Lawyer
116) Farzana Mohsin, Proud Mother, Grandmother and passionate about fairness & equality for all
117) Mohamed Moinuddin, Marketing Executive
118) Ali Moinuddin, University Student
119) Saleem Moinuddin, Retired
120) Fatemah Moinuddin, High School Student
121) Rahim Morad, Travel Counselor
122) Anthony Morgan, Lawyer
123) Fatima Muhtaj, Community Member
124) Samer Nakib, Law Student
125) Iram Naqvi, City Social Services Worker
126) Mohammed Quraishi, Optician
127) Tanweer Qureshi, Grandmother and Retired Teacher
128) Saadia Qureshi, Graphic Designer
129) Ebad Rahman, lawyer
130) Aisha Raja, Community Member and Markham Resident
131) Omair Raza, Tech entrepreneur
132) Jawdat Saleh, Concerned Community Member
133) Nafees Sayeed, Retired Civil Servant, Province of Ontario
134) Zaid Sayeed, Lawyer, Argent Law
135) Paul Scotland, Lawyer
136) Summera Shaikh, Mortgage Agent – Get A Better Mortgage/ The Mortgage Centre
137) Sadaf Siddiqui, Lawyer
138) Saif Syed, P.Eng, Software Engineer
139) Nicole Tavares, Concerned Community Member
140) Usman Umar, Government Compliance Officer
141) Anjali Willoughby, Social Worker
142) Khadija Zeeshan, Law Student, University of Alberta Faculty of Law.