Black school administrators don’t necessarily make the difference

Audley Salmon, 39, C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute’s third principal in three years, is a warm, engaging man more akin to Harry Potter’s Dumbledore than Bart Simpson’s Principal Skinner, wrote The Globe and Mail July 5. His background is one many Jefferys students can identify with. Salmon came to Canada at age four, a middle child raised by a single mom in Etobicoke social housing. He excelled at Martingrove Collegiate Institute, where he won a Harry Jerome Scholarship, founded to support black students. It’s a compelling history, one that appears to fit what the board might be looking for.

“That’s so often the narrative we want to think will make a difference for our students,” says Carl James, a professor in York University’s Faculty of Education, who studies marginalized youth and works with the Toronto District School Board. “But, you know, it’s not always so clear cut.”

Do black school administrators make a difference for black students? Not necessarily, James said. He pointed out that Charis Newton-Thompson, principal when Manners was killed, was African-Canadian, too. In her absence, Principal Jim Spyropoulos, of Greek heritage, quickly made inroads in the diverse school by asking students what they wanted and delivering, correcting many problems.

“It’s not just Audley coming from a poor background being a black person,” James said. “It matters that he understands the situation now,” as Spyropoulos did. And he does, according to principals under whom Salmon was first a vice-principal.

A pivotal anniversary goes unremarked

When Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley unveiled sweeping changes to the Human Rights Commission last week, he talked about how Ontario’s approach to human rights – and by that he meant the 1962 human rights code – was modelled on similar efforts that came out of the US civil rights movement, wrote the Toronto Star July 6.

“It almost knocked me off my chair,” says Lorne Foster, a professor in York’s Atkinson School of Public Policy & Administration.

By highlighting the US experience, Bentley unwittingly omitted one of the darker chapters in Ontario history, a time when segregation in a small town sparked a civil rights campaign that predated the big efforts south of the border, wrote the Star. And that it all began in 1948, when an African-Canadian carpenter named Hugh Burnett launched the National Unity Association, could have made for a 60th anniversary celebrating Ontario’s home-grown march of human rights.

Old and neglected in Ontario

Before people rush to condemn a Canadian Press report on quality of care in Ontario’s nursing homes, two voices need to be heard, wrote the Waterloo Region Record July 7. First, listen to Pat Armstrong, a professor in York University’s’ Faculty of Arts and one of 12 national chairs in health services and nursing research. “We’re talking about the majority of people not getting the minimum standard of care,” she says bluntly. “In a sense, we’ve abandoned them.”

  • York University Professor Pat Armstrong says Ontario needs to stop panicking about how much elder care costs and start thinking about what good nursing home care looks like, wrote The Canadian Press July 4.
  • Armstrong also spoke about differences in care for the elderly in North America and Europe, on Kingston’s FM96 and Lite 104.3 Radio July 4.

Blasphemy law should be repealed

Last month, after a long debate, England abolished the ancient common law offence of blasphemous libel, wrote Jeremy Patrick, a graduate student in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in the Toronto Star July 6.

Historically, the crime of blasphemy was committed whenever “contemptuous,” “reviling,” or “scurrilous” statements were made about God, Jesus Christ or the Church of England. The offence had been the basis for hundreds of prosecutions throughout the 18th and 19th centuries before falling into a period of dormancy after 1922. What most Canadians (even most lawyers) don’t realize is that our own Criminal Code also prohibits blasphemous libel and sets a penalty of up to two years in prison, wrote Patrick.

Trading on the best in South Asian business

This year’s honoured award recipients at the recent Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Gala Dinner, included Poonam Puri, professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, who was named Professional Female of the Year, wrote the National Post July 5.

Student will learn by living with refugees

A Winnipeg university student leaves today to spend some of her precious summer break in a place few students will ever set foot – an African refugee camp, wrote the Winnipeg Free Press July 6. Kelly Janz, 29, is one of eight students from across Canada chosen by the World University Service of Canada to go on the refugee study seminar, and had to raise more than $3,000 herself. After an orientation session at York University and some time in Nairobi, she will go to Dadaab camp and teach basic English to teachers, women, and children.

High-end studio music to students’ ears

Staff at Campbellville, Ont.’s Bel Canto School of Music have been handpicked for their impressive credentials and include piano teacher Julia Koznova, a performance student at York University with her Grade 10 piano “and a budding concert pianist,” wrote the Milton Canadian Champion July 5.

York hurdler featured in Star’s coverage of track nationals

Karl Jennings from York University, was pictured in The Winnipeg Sun July 6 beating out Jared Macleod of the Winnipeg Optimists, in the men’s 110-metre hurdles finals at the Track and Field Canadian Trials July 5 in Windsor, Ontario.

Gifted athlete heads for York

Among the top high school athletes honoured by the Dufferin, Peel and York schools was Meadowvale wrestler Peyman Cham, wrote the Toronto Star July 7. Cham, who will attend York University, won gold medals in wrestling, track and soccer and also qualified for the provincial swim finals.