An anti-racism trainer accused of denigrating a Toronto principal who later on died by suicide welcomed a evaluation launched by Ontario’s education and learning minister, stating the allegations in opposition to her are bogus and mischaracterize what occurred all through two schooling sessions.
Kike Ojo-Thompson, the founder and CEO of a variety consultancy group – whose mentioned consumers contain main firms, authorities ministries and nationwide media organizations – claimed she would co-work fully with an investigation released by Minister Stephen Lecce into 2021 classes she facilitated for the Toronto District School Board.
“We feel the Ministry of Education is finest positioned to investigate this subject to get to the bottom of what transpired at the Toronto District University Board after our workshop concluded above two yrs back,” Ojo-Thompson wrote in a blog site publish on the KOJO Institute internet site Thursday.
Richard Bilkszto submitted a lawsuit from the board in April, saying the session and its aftermath destroyed his popularity. Bilkszto, who ongoing to decide on up TDSB contracts following his 2019 retirement, claims supervisors did not intervene and later retaliated towards him when Ojo-Thompson allegedly implied he was racist and humiliated him in front of colleagues immediately after he disagreed that Canada was more racist than the U.S.
None of the allegations have been verified in court docket and TDSB has not responded specifically to the allegations. The board released a assertion Thursday expressing it hired an outside the house group to direct an investigation into the situations about Bilkszto’s dying.
Bilkszto’s law firm verified previous week he died by suicide on July 13. He was 60.
His situation has since garnered worldwide focus and been seized on by a range of outstanding right-wing commentators who have sought to roll back again diversity, fairness and inclusion initiatives at Canada’s greatest college board.
Experts have cautioned towards linking suicide to any solitary circumstance or party.
Ojo-Thompson named Bilkszto’s demise a tragedy and prolonged condolences to his spouse and children. She explained she only uncovered about the lawsuit in June, when she was achieved for remark by media outlets.
The incident, she claimed, had been weaponized to discredit and suppress diversity, fairness and inclusion function.
“While the protection by ideal-wing media of this controversy is disappointing and led to our group and crew members obtaining threats and vitriol on the internet, we will not be deterred from our get the job done in creating a much better culture for anyone.”
The lawsuit signifies Bilkszto pushed again when Ojo-Thompson – citing Canada’s failure to reckon with its anti-Black history, its ongoing celebration of the monarchy, and her possess encounter dwelling in the United States – mentioned Black people’s practical experience of racism in the place was worse than in the U.S. Bilkszto, who outlined his time as a student instructor in Buffalo, disagreed and made reference to Canada’s obtain to wellbeing-treatment and public education, according to the lawsuit.
He claimed it would be “an incredible disservice to our learners,” to say Canada was just as bad as the U.S., in accordance to the lawsuit. Ojo-Thompson responded, “we are here to communicate about anti-Black racism, but you in your whiteness feel that you can tell me what’s genuinely likely on for Black individuals?”
The lawsuit suggests Bilkszto maintained Canada was a additional just society, even though acknowledging its anti-Black racism. A further KOJO Institute guide then allegedly stepped in and explained the session was not a position to be an apologist for possibly country.
The lawsuit statements Ojo-Thompson introduced up the exchange in a followup session a week afterwards as an example of the techniques white supremacy is upheld by way of resistance.
Bilkszto complained to supervisors the exchanges at the coaching sessions amounted to workplace harassment, according to the lawsuit. He commenced a ill go away shortly after the schooling periods and was identified with stress secondary to a office event. A Place of work Basic safety and Insurance Board scenario manager approved his claim of get the job done-connected strain and granted decline-of-employment rewards masking about 7 months, obtaining he was fit to return to function in July 2021, in accordance to a duplicate of the WSIB conclusion furnished by his law firm.
Ojo-Thompson suggests she was never ever contacted by the WSIB, irrespective of the circumstance supervisor concluding her perform amounted to place of work harassment and bullying.
“Neither Toronto District College Board reps, nor WSIB adjudicators at any time contacted any users of the KOJO team about the wrong claims becoming created about our work. It is puzzling that a government agency with adjudicating authority would not consult with all named functions to a dispute,” she mentioned in the assertion.
Soon after Bilkszto was cleared for function, the lawsuit alleges TDSB “failed or normally refused” to reinstate him as principal of an adult finding out centre, in which he experienced taught on agreement given that September 2020, and revoked a different contract that experienced been established to begin in March.
Achieved for remark on Friday, his attorney Lisa Bildy reported she was “not inclined to litigate this situation in the media.”
“We have the entire recordings of the classes, which I count on will be released in thanks class – surely in the system of the court proceedings, if the loved ones decides to continue on with them,” she wrote in an email.
The incident marked a turning issue for Bilkszto, in accordance to a assertion from his family members shared by Bildy very last week.
Immediately after his experience with the board’s “equity agenda,” the assertion suggests Bilkszto commenced advocating for a extra “equality-focused” solution.
It pointed out his opposition to TDSB’s the latest go to carry in a lottery system, instead than necessities these as test scores or auditions, to admit pupils to specialized plans and educational institutions in places these types of as the arts or athletics. The board claims it undertook the transform in portion to cut down limitations to publicly funded programs and to make certain they mirrored the range of the town.
Bilkszto also aided uncovered the Toronto chapter of a U.S.-dependent group that costs itself as a non-partisan civil rights firm that supports a “colour-blindness” method to race, or what it attempts to recast as “colour-transcendence.” Bildy, a previous workers lawyer with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms who has been outspoken towards DEI education, is a member of its advisory board.
The group, Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, has challenged U.S. universities pursuing affirmative motion or race-conscious guidelines, this sort of as instruction courses directed at BIPOC lecturers.