A Critical Race Theory (CRT) organization chaired by the founder of controversial diversity consultancy KOJO Institute has received over a million dollars in government grants – including from Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government.
Parents of Black Children (PoBC), which says CRT is one of its core principles, advocates against the presence of police liaisons in schools and for “decolonized” curricula, the inserting of “Black Canadian experiences” into math and for all academic streaming to be abolished.
In 2022, the organization listed that its Board of Directors was chaired by KOJO Institute founder Kike Ojo-Thompson.
A lawsuit alleges that a TDSB principal was bullied, shamed, humiliated and labelled a “white supremacist” at an “anti-racism” session by the KOJO Institute after he challenged Ojo-Thompson’s her claim that Canada is far more racist than the United States. Ojo-Thompson subsequently suggested that the TDSB take action against 60 year old Richard Bilkszto for allegedly choosing not to “unlearn” his white supremacism.
The lawsuit has yet to be served, and the allegations have not been proven in court. Ojo-Thompson has denied the allegations.
Bilkszto later committed suicide. His family claims that he was plagued with stress stemming from the confrontation at the training.
Amid the fallout over Bilkszto’s death, PoBC and other black activist groups held an emergency press conference at Queen’s Park Wednesday to stand in solidarity with Ojo-Thompson’s KOJO Institute. They fear that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training is under threat amid growing scrutiny of the ideology.
“A tragic incident involving a former TDSB Principal is being misused to fuel a right-wing backlash against equity and anti-racism work in our province,” said PoBC.
“We cannot stand idly by as the progress we have tirelessly fought for in the battle against systemic racism and discrimination is threatened. Anti-racist work is essential in preventing harm and violence against our children and the most vulnerable members of all racialized communities.”
The organization’s 2022 Annual Report says it received $1,076,408 in government grants, making up for 93% of its total revenue. PoBC also saw a 75% increase in funding last year, going from $293,617 in 2021 to $1,153,122 in 2022, as a result of taxpayer funded grants.
PoBC’s government partners include Ontario’s Ministry of Education, Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the City of Toronto.
Ford government press releases also boast about the province giving PoBC hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Six figure grants given to PoBC by the Ford government include $150,000 in 2022 to run a tutoring program and $300,000 in 2021 to, among other things, develop “a bilingual toolkit to provide educators with an understanding of the Black experience in the education system.”
The organization also received $254,700 from 2019 to 2020 from the province’s Trillium Foundation to “build capacity and knowledge of the education system along with providing concrete system navigation support and mentorship for Black parents experiencing challenges within the education system.”
On its website, PoBC lists 10 education related demands it seeks to achieve.
These demands include the decolonization of all school curriculums, including math. “Black Canadian experiences must be built into all school curriculums, K-12, including math, science, social studies in order for teachers to create equitable classrooms,” says PoBC.
PoBC is also demanding for all performance streaming to be abolished and replaced with “mixed-ability classrooms.” The organization also wants schools to hire more black teachers.
PoBC wants the removal of police from schools, including School Resource Offices, School Engagement Team programs, Police Liaison Officers, Student Liaison Officers, Campus Police and Special Constables.
“Police in schools historically come out of the idea that having police interact locally with the community will lead to better relationships. We now have years of data and research to show that police in schools leads to the criminalization and over surveillance of Black children,” claims PoBC.
The organization is also demanding a Student and Parent Bill of Rights.
In response to the pro-DEI demonstration at Queen’s Park Wednesday, a spokesperson for Education Minister Stephen Lecce told CP24 that while the province is reviewing school training amidst Bilkszto’s death, DEI training in Ontario schools will continue, calling it “important work”.
“We will continue this important work to remove barriers that hold back too many children from reaching their full potential,” said a spokesperson for Lecce.
True North reached out to the offices of both Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Children, Community and Social Services minister Michael Parsa to ask if they would continue funding PoBC, neither responded in time for publication.
PoBC also did not return a request for comment. They also would not confirm whether Ojo-Thompson is still affiliated with the organization.