The Limestone District School Board (LDSB) and Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington (FACSFLA) maintain an ongoing commitment to provide excellent and high-quality educational and child welfare services to children, youth and families of diverse backgrounds that are free from discrimination, racism, and oppression.
Both the Limestone District School Board and the Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington maintain an ongoing commitment to provide equitable access to educational and child welfare services via responsive approaches to the unique identities and needs of children, youth and families, and communities that the both serve.
Judith Brown, a Trustee of the LDSB and long-standing member of the Kingston Black community says this initiative is as a major step in addressing anti-Black racism. “One realizes just how early attitudes are formed and it is by addressing issues at the earliest stage that one has the best chance of helping persons in the formation of their attitudes. In my lived experiences as a teacher, I have been subjected to such incidences, so I am very aware of just how early attitudes are formed.”
Both organizations recognize that addressing the unique needs of Black children, youth and families is crucial to address the disproportionate and disparity of outcomes faced by members of this group in both educational and child welfare systems.
“We are proud to partner with the LDSB as we recognize the unique needs of Black children, youth and families in both the educational and child welfare system,” states Sonia Gentile, Executive Director-FACSFLA. “By taking the time to understand the culture of Black children, youth, and families, it enriches our community as we learn from someone else’s experiences that are different than our own.”
The Umoja Black Advisory Committee will provide a forum to advise, support and hold LDSB and FACSFLA accountable in the implementation of their equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives to ensure better outcomes for Black children, youth and families involved in both systems. “The establishment of this committee recognizes the value and importance of hearing from those we serve and acknowledges the unique experiences and needs of Black children and families,” states Yusuf Adulkareem, LDSB Human Rights and Equity Officer. “This committee will facilitate better communication and increase information exchange between Black communities, FACSLA, and LDSB, and ensure that Black children and families face no prejudice in service delivery.”
Msenwa Mweneake, Manager of Equity & Transformation FACSFLA adds, “Black people have been telling us repeatedly about the barriers they face when accessing child welfare and educational systems among other systems in KFLA. Our systems have not been nice to Black people, and the only way to address disproportionality and disparity of outcomes for Black people, is for systems to start intentionally working together alongside the Black community, for them and not against them.”
The Kwanzaa celebration is an important part of the Black community’s end-of-year holiday, and its first principle “Umoja” means unity. Umoja means striving for and maintaining unity in the family and community. A powerful guiding principle that will transform and inspire a re-work of the way LDSB and FACSFLA interact with children, youth, and families from the Black community. Umoja Black Advisory Committee is hosting a potluck to share information, network, empower each other for a better future for our children, and eat great food. There will be guest speakers from LDSB, FACSFLA, and Black community leaders. Everyone is welcome: Black children and youth, their parents, mentors, coaches, uncles, and aunties.
Trustee Brown concludes, “With community involvement it will help change to come about more quickly. I strongly encourage members of the Black community and allies to join this committee. Your voice matters.”