Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s Minister of Education, was joined by Parm Gill, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism, and Kaleed Rasheed, Member of Provincial Parliament for Mississauga East-Cooksville on Tuesday to announce funding for Muslim-led organizations to counter the threat of racism in schools and communities.
The funding to the groups is to help create province-wide guides, resources, and materials to counter Islamophobic narratives in culture, online, and in the classroom.
As part of Priorities and Partnerships Funding (PPF) COVID-19 Equity Supports, and in support of Muslim students in Ontario’s publicly funded school system, the provincial government is providing:
- $150,000 to the Muslim Association of Canada to create new resources, including online courses, training modules, videos, and a web-based tool for educators, mentors, newcomer students, and parents. These resources will address mental health and well-being issues in connection with racism, discrimination, and the pandemic.
- $50,000 to Naseeha Youth Helpline to support the growing demand for counselling support from Muslim students as well as racialized students, parents, and families during the pandemic. The funding will enhance Naseeha’s capacity to provide direct supports and resources.
“We have one message to racist bullies in our schools: it ends now,” said Minister Lecce. “Senseless attacks and hateful rhetoric against Canadians of Islamic faith – including students and staff – underscore why we are taking further action to counter Islamophobic narratives in culture, online, and in the classroom. Developed by Muslim leaders and youth, these province-wide resources will empower educators, parents, and students to address racism head-on to inspire change, respect, and inclusion.”
As reported by Toronto Police, hate crimes across all categories rose 51 per cent in 2020 and kept rising in 2021. In 2020, the Muslim Association of Canada’s (MAC) Masjid Toronto saw six major incidents at both of its locations since the start of the pandemic, including spray-painted racial slurs and broken glass.
The announcement builds on past initiatives intended to support safe and welcoming schools, including targeted investments for Muslim students. This includes partnerships with Muslim-led organizations to counter racism and empower students and communities to confront hate wherever they see it.
Last year, Ontario provided:
- $225,000 to the Muslim Association of Canada that supported the development of digital resources for educators, students, and parents to raise awareness about Islamophobia.
- $50,000 to the National Council of Canadian Muslims, which implemented community check-in sessions for Muslim newcomer families in multiple languages in locations across the province.
"We all share a responsibility in the fight against hate and discrimination in Ontario and across the country,“ said Sharaf Sharafeldin, Executive Director of the Muslim Association of Canada.
“The Muslim Association of Canada is dedicated to working with the Government of Ontario to ensure that Muslim students learn in an environment that is free of Islamophobia and intolerance. Offering resources and tools to students to support their mental health and well-being will be built on the success of our www.IslamAwareness.ca web portal, which was established in collaboration with the Ministry of Education."