As a former Trustee, I attended many education related rallies and protests. I witnessed everything from kids trying to save their schools and even their beloved principal, students walking out from standardized testing, to parents and special needs youth trying to bring attention to alleged abuse in the system and the lack of education of their children.
We don’t always have to agree 100% with what is being advocated for when attending a rally, press conference, protest, etcetera, and by no means does our appearance mean we necessarily completely agree with the messaging or the way organizers or participants are engaging. We may attend for various reasons including having had similar experiences, or simply to be there in person and digest the views of all sides of the situation first hand.
When we attend a public event such as the one held by former HWDSB student trustee Ahoni Mehdi, we say your voice matters. We are taking what you are bringing to light seriously. I’m sorry you have had this experience because regardless of the result of the inquiry into these or any other allegations, the outcome doesn’t change the fact that Ahoni’s experience in this role was not what the Director and his team, and the Chair and Vice-Chair of the boards work so hard to create among staff, students, and elected officials during our terms of office.
Showing up at an event such as this also doesn’t say that the voices of the accused or their right to a fair trial cannot be unbiased or without emotion either. For certain issues close to our heart or similar to situations we have faced will bring up strong feelings, but it doesn’t mean those tasked with making these difficult discussions can’t sift through binders or testimonies of facts and deliver a verdict based on evidence alone.
I applaud trustee’s Tut, Felix-Miller, and Galindo for being present. It could not have been easy for this young woman to come forward and if nothing else, it sends a message to all of our students (which of course includes the youth in our own lives), that you do not need to feel afraid to stand up. That we will be right there behind you supporting your right to be heard, to be taken seriously, and that your concerns will be reviewed and changes implemented to ensure a safe, inclusive environment for all who walk through 20 Education Court, our schools, or while interacting with anyone representing the board in our communities.
And that’s The Point.