As 2020 draws to a close, G-98.7FM looks back at some of the iconic events in Toronto this year.
In June, a group of Grade 6 students at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Lab School made posters to voice their feelings about police violence and anti-Black racism. Unfortunately, they experienced racism firsthand after their posters were vandalized.
The posters featured words such as “Black Lives Matter,” and “No Justice, No Peace,” and included images of raised fists. They were created as part of a larger discussion on race.
Principal Richard Messina said the students were trying to make sense of recent news stories, including the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer in May.
The posters were proudly displayed in front of the school by the staff at the University of Toronto-affiliated school.
On June 27, the posters were found vandalized with black paint. The staff turned the posters around, as they were double-sided. The vandals returned and the posters were found on June 28. This time they were defaced with white paint splattered all over them.
“This is children’s work. They wanted to respond to something that was happening around them in their world and in their community. Some are becoming aware of systemic racism, some have already known it their whole lives. They wanted to express themselves,” said Messina.
“I didn’t think this would happen here, especially,” said 11-year-old Ella Irons-McDonald. “It was like a shock, sort of, and it’s sad how people don’t recognize that Black lives matter.”
She was happy to come together with her fellow students to create the posters to “do something nice for the community and make people think,” the Grade 6 student said.
Meanwhile, the school says the incident won’t stop it from displaying students’ expressions on racism, saying it intends to reprint and redisplay the posters.
“This is a reminder to all of us that Toronto is far from exempt from racism,” said Messina.