We are looking to recruit an empathetic and collaborative individual to help facilitate research consultations for Black youth in Hamilton schools. Sessions will encompass issues of anti-Black racism in Hamilton schools, while also creating spaces for peer-to-peer supports between Black youth in our community.
Facilitators must be 15-21 years old, identify as Black and have recently attended a publicly-funded school board in Hamilton (English public, English Catholic, French Public and/or French Catholic).
Community Safety and Wellbeing Action Plan for Black Youth in Hamilton Schools
There have been many incidents of racism in Hamilton, and in 2019 Hamilton was dubbed the hate capital of
Canada. We saw an increase in incidents of racism in our public schools as well, such as the snow incident that
was shared through multiple media outlets. Students have worked together to push for support around these
issues, such as releasing reports and meeting with school board administration to try and create space for
students to share their concerns. At Bernie Custis Secondary School, students formed the first-ever Black Youth
Council, and hosted a variety of events to build community and to have a way for students to receive peer
support when incidents of racism occurred on school grounds. This Council model spread to MacNab Secondary
School, and would be a good model to implement in as many schools as possible.
Since the death of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, organizations across Hamilton have spoken up about
the need to address anti-Black racism across various institutions. We saw this culminate into an event Black
Friday Rally in Support of Black Organizations that was run by multiple organizations focused on elevating the
support of Black-led institutions in our city. At this event, Black-led organizations listed the need for education-based support for youth around anti-racism. We also saw a surge in the call from Black youth in our communities
for educational institutions to address anti-Black racism, and policing in schools. This culminated in the
termination of the police program in the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB).
The student and community-driven work discussed above exists mainly in the public school system, meaning
that the Black youth in the Catholic and French boards do not have the same access to peer-to-peer mentorship
support. HWDSB does not have the community connections to discuss the recommendations and consult the
Black community on ways to maintain youth-led peer support models, or to create alternative spaces for Black
youth to express their needs around safety and wellbeing on school grounds. The HWDSB has drafted an Equity
plan with no real Black-led, youth-led way of consulting the community. Other school boards in Hamilton are also
lagging behind in these efforts. This Community Safety and Well-Being Plan seeks to fill those gaps and offer
alternative ways to engage with solutions to issues facing Black youth, such as isolation, lack of mental health
support during this pandemic, bullying, combating anti-black racism and critical conversations around policing in
schools. Additionally, police in schools have set Black students back through continued violence and
intimidation. Before moving forward we must address the harm that has been caused. This is why it is not
enough to terminate the police liaison program alone. There are not supports in place to support Black youth in
our education systems. Because of the pandemic, Black youth are also further alienated from traditional
consultation models, meaning that all school boards could use the help of HCCI and partnered organizations to
consult youth and community on what a Community Safety and Wellbeing Action Plan could look like for Black
Youth in Hamilton Schools.