Category Archives: News

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Lesson plans for meaningful reflection

In a few short weeks, Jewish communities and allies across the world will recognize International Holocaust Remembrance Day. During a time of heightened political tribalism – you vs. me, them vs. us – taking time to reflect on the consequences of othering is of incredible importance. The date, January 27th, is not arbitrary – it is the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. While gross human rights abuses are not to be considered on a single day and then forgotten, having a marked day intentionally rooted in history gives us a chance to honour Jewish victims of the Holocaust as a global community. It is imperative, however, that we honour the past while also recognizing the role it plays in our present.

For many Jewish Canadians, news that antisemitism is on the rise is hardly news at all. With reports of antisemitic graffiti in North York as well as the recent attack of four Jewish youth making headlines, growing hate in our communities simply cannot be ignored. The recent shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh sent waves of grief across North America, making this January 27th a particularly difficult one. A government report on 2017 police-reported hate crime, released at the end of November 2018, reveals that the rise in hate crimes nationally is driven largely by incidents in Ontario and Quebec. Between 2016 and 2017, hate crimes against the Jewish population increased 41 per cent in Ontario alone. Nationally, they rose from 221 in 2016 to 360 in 2017 and accounted for 18 per cent of all hate crimes in Canada.

As educators, we have an immense responsibility to not only make sure our students are safe, but to teach our students how they can build safe communities for others. International Holocaust Remembrance Day provides us with an authentic segue into critical discussions on human rights and growing antisemitism. Here at Harmony, we’ve partnered with FAST (Fighting Antisemitism Together) to bring you detailed resources that you can use in your classroom.

Choose Your Voice ( provides free online teaching tools for students in grades 6, 7, and 8. Unit 1, Bursting the Voices of Stereotypes, provides an age-appropriate overview of the impacts of stereotypes and bias. The site provides a detailed lesson plan, video, and guided discussion questions that help you bring meaningful content to your classroom. Moving through the site, teachers will find additional plans, program materials, and student resources across multiple units.

Voices into Action ( includes free curriculum-based teaching resources for teaching about prejudice, human rights, and social justice to high school students. Chapter 1 of Unit 2, for example, asks students to critically consider the rise of Nazism in Germany. What motivated people living during the reign of Hitler to conform or dissent against the acts of the Holocaust? Students are encouraged to consider the role of bystanders and are later given the opportunity to explore the power of Holocaust art (Unit 5).

Both sites are free to educators – now and always – and simply require registration with site administrators. As human rights educators, facilitators at Harmony Movement approve of and endorse the content developed by FAST; we are grateful to have partnered with them and to be able to share their incredible work.

With so many resources available, and with antisemitism become an increasingly dangerous threat to all of our communities, we have to recommit ourselves daily to recognizing and responding to all forms of oppression. The International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a chance for us to take meaningful first steps toward acknowledging the past while working toward a more just present and future.

Discussing World AIDS Day and Resilience

On the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, the theme is Know Your Status, but the key word is resilience. People living with HIV/AIDS and those that survive them and fight for their rights have lived through a world that repeatedly tries to ignore their existence. They’ve been denied medication, denied basic respect, and have been treated by society as though they have the plague.

Canada has come a long way in the past 30 years, but there is still work to be done. Globally, 25% of HIV-positive people are unaware of their status,1 a statistic that UN AIDS is determined to change. Currently, in Ontario, infection rates have reached almost 30,000 according to the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.2 Stigma still exists despite the fact that HIV education has existed longer than World AIDS Day. But what does that mean for us, in our classrooms, for our students?

First, acknowledge that HIV is still a reality. With the Ontario government returning to a physical health and sex education curriculum that is 20 years old, our role as educators is more important than ever in this area. New treatments & prevention tools are only a part of the advancements health care and medicine have made, and safer behaviours are still an important part of healthy sexuality. Common myths and misperceptions persist about HIV, as demonstrated by a survey done in the United Kingdom which found that 1 in 3 young people were not sure whether kissing spread HIV.3

What Can I Do?

Resilience is the key word 30 years after the start of World AIDS Day and 35 years since the fight against HIV/AIDS began in earnest. Teach your students about prominent HIV activists. Teach them about stigma so that they can recognize it and challenge it.

  • Advocates for Youth is a DC-based organization that provides fact sheets and resources specifically for youth work. It also includes links to youth-led projects and the ways in which AIDS activism intersects across identities.
  • The AIDS activist history Canada project sheds light on the past and present of the fight against AIDS in Canada. Readers can listen to interviews and view archived materials from posters to pamphlets to meeting minutes. Use these resources to discuss where we’ve been and what work there is to do from here.
  • AIDS Action Now covers 1987-2008 and outlines important dates in timeline format. This activist organization also celebrated its 30th anniversary this year4 and continues their fight against stigma and for an end to criminalizing people with HIV.

Perhaps most importantly, let your stuents know that while phobias may still exist, there is no reason to fear people with HIV. They can join the fight for HIV positive people and help make this world better for everyone.


Remembrance Day Perspectives

On November 11, people across the country will pause to remember those who lost their lives fighting for the ideals that define Canada. This is important, for it gives us a chance to reflect on our collective history as Canadians and as individuals sharing this world. With hate crimes on the rise, acknowledging where we’ve been allows us to more deeply reflect on where we’re going.

As we near this important date, it is important for us to think about what Remembrance Day means, about who has been recognized and about who has not. Viewing the world with an equity lens is to understand that for every narrative, there are dozens of untold perspectives. There are always stories that haven’t been heard. The observation of Remembrance Day is no different.

Harmony Movement was formed, in part, after Lt.-Col. Pritam Singh Jauhal was denied entrance into a Royal Canadian Legion in Surrey in 1993. Despite having fought for the British Empire for 38 years, he was not allowed to join fellow veterans on account of his religious headgear. Jauhal spent the rest of his life fighting for religious freedom and for a broader, more open understanding of what it means to be a Canadian. He died in 2016 at the age of 95.

Unfortunately, Jauhal’s fight continues. Just this year, a Sikh man in Tignish was denied entry into a legion because of his headgear. This is indicative of the fact that, while Canada has made strides in becoming an inclusive country, there is still work to be done.

Do our students know about these stories? When we think of a “Canadian soldier” what comes to our mind first? What image appears?

How many other stories like Jauhal’s are there to be told? How do we ensure that we honor those stories too? On Remembrance Day, how do we include a multiplicity of stories so that we have a richer and more accurate understanding of who is a part of Canada?

This Remembrance Day, I encourage teachers to expand our thanks – to take a moment to hear untold stories and to honour those as well. Discuss the role that women played as nurses because they were not allowed to serve. In 1941, the first Women’s Division of the Royal Canadian Air Force was formed, but women largely held clerical roles. Indeed, the Division’s slogan was, “We serve that men may fly”.

And what about No. 2 Battalion, Canada’s segregated military unit? Black men were prohibited from enlisting and were told, in essence, that it was not their country to fight for. Even when they were given the right to enlist, they faced racism and discrimination regularly.

These stories deserve to be told. We, as a country, have an obligation to recognize these inequities so that we can grow and learn and include. This Remembrance Day, take a moment to ask your students what the occasion means and which perspectives not fully recognized. Take a moment to make this day – and all other days – one that acknowledges inequities and takes steps toward inclusion.

Announcing the 2018 Harmony Award Winners

Harmony Movement is excited to announce this year’s winners of the 2018 Harmony Awards, which celebrate leaders of social change working to transform Canadian society. All awards will be presented at the Harmony Awards Gala taking place November 8, 2018 at the Grand Luxe, North York, ON.

This evening of networking and celebration allows members of the business, government, education, and community sectors to come together to honour the best Social Changemakers in the country.

Harmony Award Winner
Mandi Gray

Harmony Community Educator Award
Ivan Coyote

Educator of the Year Award
David Walls, Catholic Central HS, Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board

Leadership in Education Award
Michelle Coutinho – Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

School of the Year Award
Catholic Central HS, Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board

Social Changemakers Award presented by Allan Slaight
Equity Club, Pierre Elliott Trudeau HS, York Region District School Board

+ our 10 June Callwood Harmony Scholarship Recipients

Join us at the 2018 Harmony Awards Gala for an inspiring and uplifting evening with food, drink and celebration.

Early bird tickets are available from September 17th to October 1st – get 50% off ($50 ticket for $25).

International Day of Peace – 3 Ways to Peace

By Ilaneet Goren

Ilaneet is a facilitator, educator, social worker and Director of Workplace Learning and Development at Harmony Movement



The urgency of peace and peace education feels more palpable than ever. At a time when hate crimes and attacks on ethnoracial groups are on the rise in Canada, the International Day of Peace carries an ever bigger meaning.  Established unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981, Peace Day is celebrated on September 21st through various events and activities worldwide. This year’s theme is dedicated to the right to peace based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As educators and social changemakers, this day is a chance to reflect on our role and responsibility in building peaceful relationships with others, with the Earth, and perhaps most importantly, with(in) ourselves.

(1) Peace with(in) You

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha

Our equity and inclusion workshops always start with focusing inward and reflecting on our values, biases, social location, and the power and privileges we hold. This is a useful practice for anyone working to bridge cultural and identity-based differences. As we expand our social and emotional awareness we realize that diversity education is not about the other: it’s about learning about and working on ourselves.

What if we approached peace in the same way and believed that “doing peace” has to start with “being at peace”?

Don’t think of introspection as ‘naval gazing’ but as a useful tool that educators and peace advocates can use to support their work and growth and help reduce burnout. Psychologists call this “peeling the onion:” delving deeper and deeper, layer by layer into our inner experience in order to gain insight to inform better decisions and actions. This can feel scary and vulnerable – not an easy or natural place to be for many of us. But with practice we can strengthen the vulnerability muscle, ultimately making us more resilient and open to new possibilities.

Here are some questions to start this off:

  • Am I at peace with myself? What may be preventing me from being at peace?
  • Is there an inner truth, voice or need within me that I am not honouring or expressing fully?
  • What would it feel like if I fully lived my truth?

(2) Peace with Others

“Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding.” – Albert Einstein

Conflict is a natural part of our human experience. As equity educators, our work is often about encouraging cross-cultural conflict resolution skills and techniques in others, helping them turn conflict into teachable moments and bridge-building opportunities.

In one of our exercises, we ask people to reflect on their conflict management style: Do you tend to avoid conflict or confront issues head on? Do you see conflict as a competition or an opportunity to collaborate and find a common solution? Your approach to conflict may hold the key to how effective you are in bridging across cultural and identity-based differences.

According to the Harvard Negotiation Method developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury and made popular in the book Getting to Yes, underneath most opposing positions are unaddressed human needs, interests and desires. Addressing those needs and interests rather than positions can lead to a more productive dialogue and a win-win resolution.

The following questions can help uncover the deeper issues underlying some of our conflicts with others:

  • Am I at peace with the people in my life?
  • When thinking about a person with whom you are in conflict right now, what is the nature of the conflict? What are the human needs and interests that are not being addressed, for you and for the other person?
  • What would happen if those needs are addressed on both sides?

(3) Peace with the Earth

“We can’t have peace on the earth, if we don’t have peace with the earth.”  – Jill Butterfly

What good is peace on Earth if we don’t have an earth to live on? Judging by how we treat our oceans, forests, animals and the ozone layer, it’s as if we’re at war with the Earth and all its living beings. Scientists are now saying that human activity and technology may have pushed our planet to the point of no return  in terms of climate change.

People in developing countries and communities living in poverty are disproportionately affected by climate change, from floods and hurricanes to droughts and wildfires causing mass deaths, injuries and displacements. (Read about the unprecedented flooding in southern India that killed over 350 people and displaced more than 800,000).

Harmony’s programs help students and educators reflect on the intrinsic connection between environmental and social justice; Click here to explore our series of podcasts on environmental justice. How can we further deepen our environmental consciousness as educators?

We can start by asking ourselves:

  • Am I at peace with the Earth? How can I be more connected to nature and all living things?
  • What role am I playing in protecting the environment? What is my contribution to environmental justice?
  • How do my daily actions reflect my commitment to protecting our planet?

By thinking about the ways that we can be more at peace with ourselves, others and the Earth we can find a new meaning in celebrating the International Day of Peace.

*Image source:

2018 Harmony Awards Gala


Harmony Education Foundation

2018 Harmony Awards Gala
Thursday, November 8

A tribute to Harmony Award recipient
Mandi Gray

and the recipients of

Harmony Social Changemakers Award
Harmony Educator Award
Mary A. Samuel Harmony Leadership in Education Award
Harmony School of the Year Award
June Callwood Harmony Scholarships
Community Educator Award

The Grand Luxe
3125 Bayview Ave, North York, ON (Bayview & Finch)

Reception at 6:00pm * Awards Ceremony at 7:30pm * Dessert at 9:00pm

Tickets sales to open September 1, 2019.


If you are unable to attend the event please make a donation to the Harmony Education Foundation.

Be the Change ~ Be a Sponsor
Help us continue providing programs for equity leadership and social change!

To become a Sponsor please complete our sponsorship form and e-mail to For more information, please call Janelle Yanishewski at 416.385.2660.

The gala is presented by the Harmony Education Foundation (Registered charity #87188 9168) for the benefit of Harmony Movement.

Classroom Tips: Nelson Mandela Day

“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.”

-Nelson Mandela, 2005[1]

100 Years of Greatness

July 18, 2018 will mark Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s centenary. His indisputable legacy of challenging the status quo, demonstrating leadership and inspiring social change is globally recognized. During his years as a revolutionary and political prisoner, he maintained a steadfast critique of South Africa’s apartheid regime.  After his release from prison, he became South Africa’s first Black president in 1994.  His decade’s worth of activism was recognized with over 250 awards and honours including the Nobel Peace Prize (1993), Freedom of the City of London (1996) and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (1988) [2]

Legacy of Political Struggle

Nelson Mandela was a symbol of struggle and hope for the oppressed.  From black liberation during his early years with the African National Congress to establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa, he spoke out against poverty, racism and inequality.  Even after becoming a statesman and international hero, he remained on the United States’ Terrorist Watchlist until 2008.[3]

Activist, Politician or Peacemaker, where to focus lessons?

The many sides to Nelson Mandela provide great lessons about being an agent of social change. Whether choosing to focus on leadership styles or different political tactics such as non-violent resistance or armed struggle, there are many ways to integrate Nelson Mandela’s biography or speeches into the classroom.

For Elementary students, the follow resources provide biographical information that can be used in English Language Arts and Social Studies.

For Intermediate and High School Students, the multimedia resources can address a range of subject areas within Social Studies and Humanities.

While each discussion will undoubtedly reflect the particular age, location and needs of the particular students, the overarching lesson is sure to be the same: Nelson Mandela is a man who is rightfully celebrated as a true champion of human rights and equity for all.




Classroom Tips: World Environment Day

World Environment Day – “If you can’t reuse it, refuse it”

For most of us, the 3 R’s of waste management – reduce, reuse, recycle, are one of the first lessons we learn as children. But how many of us really stop to think about where our waste (including our recycling) actually goes?

  • “An estimated 8 million metric tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year. This is the equivalent of one garbage truck full of plastic being dumped into the ocean every minute.”[1]
  • Statistics show that there will be more plastic in oceans than fish by 2050.[2]

With plastic pollution becoming one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time, reducing our waste consumption is an urgent concern.

As educators, we have a great opportunity to teach students about our environmental impact and why it is so important for us to reduce consumption more than anything. One such opportunity is World Environment Day. Celebrated on June 5th, the United Nations’ uses this day each year to encourage worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. This year, the theme is beating plastic pollution.[3]

What Can You Do?

There are a number of different ways you can get your students discussing the importance of reducing plastic consumption and taking action. Below are a few suggestions:

  • Get your school to become a waste free school. You can do this by encouraging your students and faculty to go waste free! Do you sell or offer plastic water bottles or bottled drinks at school? Did you know that bottled water is almost 2,000 times more energy intensive to produce than tap water?[4]
    • Ontario EcoSchools is a program developed by the Toronto District School Board in 2002 created to recognize and celebrate schools for their environmental learning and action. Their mission is to nurture environmental leaders, to help schools reduce their ecological impact and build environmentally responsible school communities. Their website offers resources and instructions on how to get your school to become an ecoschool:
  • Organize a field trip to one of the 32 large landfills found in Ontario as part of a lesson plan and conversation starter on waste management and the impact of our waste:
  • Challenge your students to collect their waste for an entire month.
    • Rob Greenfield created a “Trash Me” 30-day experiment where he wore every single piece of trash that he created while living like “the average American” (who creates 4.5 pounds of garbage each day) to create a visual understanding of his impact. This is a great visual tool to show youth exactly what it was like to go through this process and how much waste one person actually creates. This short video outlines his journey on this challenge.

Other Helpful Resources:
The World Environment Day website has lesson plans and ideas on how to discuss the impact of plastic waste with your students:

This World Environment Day Teacher Toolkit outlines what you can do to get your students organizing and offers some statistics, suggestions and links to other websites and resources – it can also be found on the World Environment Day webpage:

The Earth Day Network is another great resource that offers lesson plans, event ideas and templates to help you plan for your World Environment Day action:





Classroom Tips: The Colours of the Pride Flag

The Colours of the Pride Flag & Activities

The late Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag in 1978 with 8 different colours, each a symbol meant to strengthen and celebrate LGBTQ2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit) communities. The flag was initially pink (for sex), red (for life), orange (for healing), yellow (for sunlight), green (for nature), blue (for art), indigo (for harmony), and violet (for the human spirit). Learning that hot pink fabric wasn’t readily available in large amounts and wanting there to be an even number of colours that were distinct, Baker eventually dropped pink & indigo. It was then that the rainbow flag we know and use to show Pride and LGBTQ2S+ positive spaces in our schools and communities was born.1

Knowing our histories is always a key part of bettering our futures. Pride Month is a time to celebrate all aspects of LGBTQ2S+ experiences, seeing the wholeness of our identities, and acknowledging where around the world (including in our own backyard) there are still issues that need addressing.

There are large global concerns like refugees from Chechnya & Russia escaping through Rainbow Railroad.2 Here at home, UCP leader Jason Kenney is challenging queer & trans inclusion by what threatens to out kids to parents or families that may not accept them.3

While this is happening, celebrating the passion of intersectional queer and trans activists shows the diverse reach of the beautiful people making this world better for LGBTQS+ students and youth.4 Pride Month offers all sorts of angles and entry points to discussing the rights, successes, and challenges of LGBTQ2S+ people.

What Can I Do?

In your classrooms, we thought it would be valuable to breakdown of the rainbow flag into separated mini-activities, bits of knowledge, or self-care pieces centred around what each colour represents.

Red- Life: Ask your class to share their gender pronouns and tell the story of their name. Use their first name, last name, middle name, a chosen name. Students can talk about what their name means, why they were given that particular name, or if they could choose a name for themselves what it would it be. This last prompt is especially helpful if the student doesn’t know that story behind their name. Highlight the power of honouring people’s pronouns, and why our names mean so much to our lives. This small act of inclusion can move mountains for you, your students, and your school.

Orange- Healing: Try a brief meditation with your class and discuss the power of renewal.

Yellow- Sunlight: It’s spring! Take classes outside and search for rainbows in nature. Create art that shows the sun & discuss that the sun rising every day is a reminder of our re-birth.

Green- Nature: Share this awesome piece about 6 queer women environmentalists demonstrating some amazing intersectional work.

Blue- Art: Visit CBC’s short docs celebrating queer and trans artists from across the country. Show a clip in your class and discuss!

Violet- The Human Spirit: Pride Toronto’s theme for 2018 is 35 Years of AIDS Activism.5 Talk about resilience! Communities forced to confront the plague of HIV/AIDS are still going strong and this year, North America’s largest Pride festival will celebrate the continuing strength & passion of these individuals throughout June.

However you honour the achievements and discuss the difficulties of the LGBTQ2S+ world this Pride Month, we wish you the best and hope you do so with empathy and an eye to inclusion of the myriad identities on that beautiful rainbow spectrum. Happy Pride!





Free Resources for Teachers

Check Out These Free Resources for Teachers!

We are looking forward to Education Week coming up next month from May 6 – 11. This is a time for us to celebrate teaching excellence and student achievement. In honour of this week, we wanted to share some exciting FREE resources with you.

Harmony Movement is excited to be partnering with ReelEducation to spread the word about these new educator resources. ReelEducation is providing lesson plans to educators across Ontario for grades K-12. The lessons use films, discussion and activities to engage students about issues surrounding ability and mental health in our schools and societies, including:

  • Physical accessibility and barriers
  • Empathy-building
  • The power of stereotypes and stigma
  • Idnetify myths around mental health
  • How to support those experience mental health challenges

See a full listing of the lesson plans available and register to get acces to the films here:

They make direct curriculum connections to language, media literacy, writing, oral communication and inclusion.


Join us as Harmony Movement partners with ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival in showcasing:

Defiant Lives

Sunday, June 3 at 7:00pm at Innis Town Hall (University of Toronto Campus)

Weaving together never-before-seen archival footage with reflective interviews and the personal stories of men and women with disabilities as they fought for independence and control over their lives, Defiant Lives details the rise of the disability rights movement in Australia, the U.K., and the U.S.

The film will be followed by a panel presented by Community Living Toronto and Harmony Movement from 8:30-9:30pm.

$12 General Admission – $10 Post-secondary student – Free for under 18

Keep your eyes out on social media for an upcoming ticket giveaway.

The ReelAbilities Film Festival will take place this year from May 30 to June 5, 2018.

About ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival

ReelAbilities Film Festival brings together the community to promote awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. ReelAbilities Film Festival showcases films, conversations and artistic programs to explore, embrace and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience. 2018 will be the third annual ReelAbilities Festival in Toronto.

ReelEducation is a new program growing out of the ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival.

Classroom Tips: World Health Day – Disability in our Schools

World Health Day: Disability in our Schools

If we ask you to picture a student with a disability, what image comes quickly to mind? Perhaps it is someone using a wheelchair or other mobility device. As a common media presence, it would not be a surprise were that your initial impression. As World Health Day approaches and asks us to consider the necessity of universal coverage1 what are the health impacts on students we don’t always think of when we think of students with disabilities?

Take a student with anxiety as an example. What supports are in your school if they are having a panic attack and need to leave class in the middle of their presentation? It may take more than we realise for that student to return to the classroom, especially if the full level of support they require is not present. If up to 20% of Ontario’s youth will experience some kind of mental health issue2 and 28% of our students say they are not sure where to turn for resources or help with those issues3, it is incumbent on us as educators to find new and better ways to remove stigmas in the classroom and offer paths forward for students to access what they need.

Along with recognising the needs of your overall student population, it is necessary to acknowledge how students from other marginalised communities are impacted by mental health issues and related stigmas. For example, LGBTQ2S youth are at 14 times the risk of dying by suicide than their heterosexual peers4. Do your community support workers have experience targeting the needs of people with diverse sexual orientations? On top of that, youth in our poorest neighbourhoods experience the highest rates of emergency room visits for intentional self-harm and the highest rates of suicide attempts5. How are we navigating the intersection between class & ability to ensure students are always well taken care of?


While school boards do provide community workers and/or social workers, they are often lacking in time to pay close enough attention to all issues. Further, given stigmas related to mental health especially, not everything is reported to an adult or taken seriously when occurring. Harmony Movement wanted to provide some additional resources for students to access if they require more support or were not comfortable speaking to someone at their school.

Kids Help Phone: National, bilingual, 24-hour, anonymous, phone and web counselling service for children and youth. 1-800-668-6868 or

Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youthline: Ontario-wide phone, text and web support for LGBTQ2S youth (29 & under). 1-800-268-9688 or text 647-694-4275 or

Community Living Ontario: Family-based association assisting people who have an intellectual disability and their families to lead the way in advancing inclusion in their own lives and in their communities.

ReelAbilities Toronto As part of Harmony Movement’s growing list of national and provincial partners, we are discussing disability and health as part of our connection with ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival. Showcasing Canadian and International shorts, features, and documentaries about Deaf and disability cultures and by filmmakers and actors with disabilities and/or who are Deaf. Over the past 3 years, RAFFTO has launched programs alongside producing the festival in the spring of each year. The 2018 festival, running May 30-June 4, will feature amazing new opportunities for schools and boards to bring these films directly into the classroom and help shift our conversations around Deaf and disability inclusion in Ontario schools.

ReelEducation To that end, we are happy to support ReelAbilities Toronto in the launch of their new resource ReelEducation! This amazing (free) plan provides resources for educators and parents to teach students about inclusion, empathy, universal design, mental health and stereotypes, as well as attitudinal and employment barriers. Each ReelEducation kit comes in an accessible format (films with open captioning) with a lesson plan that identifies the theme in each film. Films will be available this spring. A simple submission form is available here for you to begin the process of accessing the films, which will become available April 1, 2018!



2 MHASEF Research Team. (2015) The Mental Health of Children and Youth in Ontario: A Baseline Scorecard. Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

3 Boak, A., Hamilton, H., Adlaf, E., Henderson, J. and Mann, R. (2016). The Mental Health and Well-Being of Ontario Students, 1991-2015: Detailed OSDUHS findings (CAMH Research Document Series No. 43).

4 Canadian Mental Health Association – Ontario. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Queer identified People and Mental Health. Webpage:

5 MHASEF Research Team. (2015) The Mental Health of Children and Youth in Ontario: A Baseline Scorecard. Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

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Classroom Tips – Week of Solidarity with Peoples Struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination

Week of Solidarity with Peoples Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination

March 21 to March 27 is the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination. Declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, March 21st is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which kicks off a week of action to address racism and support those who are facing and fighting against racism and racial discrimination.

An important starting point to this conversation is defining and differentiating between racism and racial discrimination. Racism is a system of power that provides privilege (unearned advantages) to the dominant white racial group while oppressing people of colour. Racial discrimination is the individual unfair treatment of a person or group of people on the basis of race.  The notable difference is that racism is systemic oppression that only affects those who are not part of the dominant group, whereas racial discrimination is an interpersonal treatment that can be directed at anyone.

How relevant is this to our Canadian context?  Do we have a racism problem? Here is a brief look at what some recent research tells us:

  • Black students are almost twice as likely to be suspended at least once during high school compared to their White peers.
  • Only 0.4% of Black students are identified as gifted, compared to 4% of their White counterparts. Conversely, 16% of White students are identified with special education needs compared with 26% of Black students.
  • An average of 1,213 hate crime incidents reported per year over the last 10 years.
  • An Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News found that 25% of Canadians say they have experienced racism — up 8 percent from 2005.
  • The unemployment rate for Indigenous Canadians is more than twice the national average.
  • The incarceration rate for Indigenous Canadians is 10 times the national average.

These stats are but a tiny slice of the larger picture and there is much work to do in our own communities to combat racism. But how do tackle such a large systemic issue?  A good place to start is understanding the role of solidarity and the importance of solidarity work. Solidarity includes both the understanding and the conscious commitment to action in support of those experiencing systemic barriers. Solidarity in this context means standing with and lending support to people who are struggling against systemic racism and racial discrimination. While many of your students will be eager to show solidarity, it is important to give them some basic tools that will ensure they are engaging in ways that are respectful and appropriate. Here are some important points to share with students and colleagues.

To act in solidarity with others we must first consider the following:

  • Listen to the voices of those directly impacted. They are the experts on what their experience and what they need. Don’t make assumptions about what others may be feeling or wanting.
  • Ask what you can do to support rather than assume.
  • Recognize your own privileges in society and the barriers others face based on their identity.
  • Accept the other person’s truth that you yourself may not share or even fully understand, and never deny or question a person’s lived experience of oppression.
  • Act with and follow the lead of those directly impacted by racism but never take over. It’s important to allow people with lived experiences to lead the conversation and be at the front of the struggle.

This March have a conversation with students about the actions they can take to advocate for racial justice and stand in solidarity with those who are struggling against racism and racial discrimination.


Ontario Alliance of Black School Educators. Black Student Achievement in TDSB.

Canadian Race Relations Foundation. Hate Crimes in Canada. 

Global News. 29-June-2017. Canada is 150 and still needs to face its racism problem: advocates.

Government of Canada. Fact Sheet – 2011 National Household Survey Aboriginal Demographics, Educational Attainment and Labour Market Outcomes.