Peel school board investigating after racist usernames appear during Sikh Heritage Month online event
A Peel District School Board sign is shown in this undated photo.
Published Thursday, April 1, 2021 10:48PM EDT
An online event marking Sikh Heritage Month, which was hosted by Peel District School Board and attended by federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, was disrupted by unknown individuals using racist and discriminatory slurs in their usernames, the board says.
In an open letter posted to Twitter on Thursday evening, PDSB Director of Education Colleen Russell-Rawlins and PDSB supervisor Bruce Rodrigues said immediate steps were taken to block the accounts from the event, and an investigation has begun into the incident.
The officials apologized to the attendees, members of the Sikh community, and Singh, who was a guest speaker at the event.
“The online event was engaging and informative for all participating schools and we are grateful to Mr. Singh for joining us in this opportunity to connect and commemorate the opening of Sikh Heritage Month,” officials said.
“The Peel District School Board recognizes the harm this act of racism and hate caused to students, staff and special guests. This hate was directed towards Sikh, South-Asian, Black, and 2SLGBTQ+ communities. The language was unacceptable and will not be tolerated at the Peel District School Board.”
Officials said they are taking the matter seriously, and those who participate in acts of racism and discrimination at the school will be held accountable.
The board said the racist incident will not deter them from celebrating the Sikh community.
“We want to assure the Peel District School Board community that we will continue to honour Sikh Heritage Month throughout the month of April and celebrate the significant contributions of the Sikh faith,” the board said.
Earlier in the day, Singh tweeted a video wishing everyone a Happy Sikh Heritage Month. The federal NDP leader said April is a special month for Sikhs because it is when “we celebrate the foundation of the Sikh tradition.”
“And one of the most important values that we celebrate during Sikh Heritage Month is this idea that we are all one, that we are all connected, and it is a foundation for which we build on the idea of justice for all that if we see someone suffering, then we’re suffering.
“And that’s why we all have a responsibility to lift each other up, so that we can all rise together.”
Peel Regional Police told CP24 the incident has not been reported to them.