Allies need a sense of crisis to stay “on board”

TORONTO – On Wednesday, adherents of Delta Family Resource Centre and other individuals connected to, or part of, the Parents of Black Children met in front of the Legislature at Queen’s Park to protest the latest developments surrounding the suicide of retired High School Principal Richard Bilkszto.

He took his own life last July 13, 2023. It is alleged that the stress, professional humiliation and bullying applied by the KOJO Institute caused such mental distress that tragically he took his own life. I may have missed it, but I did not hear anyone express sympathy for Richard Bilkszto.

Everyone seemed more concerned that the KOJO Institute might be implicated in his death. They were also expressing concern (mostly indirectly) that the founder of the Kojo Institute, a Kike Ojo-Thompson, might lose some if not all sources of funding to advocate against what they see as anti-Black racism. The Kojo Institute lists about 100 clients from school boards, colleges, universities, banks and other institutions in Ontario.

It is probably a healthy business. At least 200 people took part in KOJO’s seminars offered through The Toronto District School Board alone.

The roughly 50 people present seemed to be playing down the calls for an inquiry into Bilkszto’s death. There were signs calling for inquiries into acts of aggression against Black children. There were maybe two non-Black individuals, but it was not clear if they were staffers from Queen’s Park or “allies” of the protesters.

There was an eerie sense that people present thought that Bilkszto may have brought the tragedy onto himself, although no one said so openly. No one condemned Kike Ojo Thompson for her tactics in the seminar.

Theres was no mention (as we pointed out in these pages yesterday) of an autopsy to determine cause of death or of a criminal investigation into how was prompted to commit suicide.

The Toronto District School Board has not indicated if they had vetted the KOJO Institute, Kike Ojo-Thompson or the program they deliver. No one has produced an assessment on whether the seminars make a difference.

“We are committed to ensuring that no Black woman or person feels unprotected or unsupported or is scapegoated”, said Deborah Buchanan-Walford

There were no non Black allies.

(Pic by Raul Lima; graphic from TDSB’s website) 

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