Mandatory Black History Overview

Students will now learn about the overwhelming contributions of Black individuals to Canada’s foundation as a young nation, and the obstacles they faced in the pursuit of building a democratic, inclusive and prosperous country.

“It’s important that all students learn about Black communities in Canada and their enormous impact on the growth of our country. Black people have been a part of the Canadian story since the 1600s,” said Patrice Barnes, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education. “And that’s why we aim to deepen students’ understanding of our country’s diverse and vibrant heritage by embedding this mandatory learning. It highlights the numerous significant milestones, which will help students develop a greater understanding of our country’s rich heritage.”

Over the next year, the ministry will consult with historians, educators and the Black community, which will inform the new learning.

In addition, Ontario continues its work on a modernized and up-to-date curriculum to ensure students graduate with real-life job skills and knowledge that they need to succeed – in the classroom and beyond. With the expedited growth in technological advancement and rise in entrepreneurship, the province is introducing updated curriculum starting in the next school year that prepares students for the jobs of tomorrow.

“Black history is Canadian history,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “By mandating learning on the contributions Black individuals made to our country’s founding and success, the next generation of Canadians will better appreciate the sacrifice, patriotic commitment and long-lasting contributions Black Canadians have made to Canada. As the economy and technology continue to change, we will continue to modernize curriculum, with an emphasis on STEM education, so students have the skills and confidence to graduate into good-paying jobs.”

To deliver on the commitment to provide greater transparency to parents and the public about how the Ontario curriculum is updated, the Ontario government has released the new Ontario Curriculum Review and Revision Guide. This guide provides an overview of the ministry’s current process for reviewing and revising the curriculum in both English and French from kindergarten to Grade 12, while also outlining the government’s plan to review curriculum every five years to ensure it is up-to-date and relevant to today’s job and life skills. This change is being delivered as a result of the former government not updating curriculum in a timely manner, including math and science curriculums that were 15 years old and 16 years old, respectively.

Ontario will also be issuing the following updates to the curriculum for implementation in September 2024, which include:

  • Technological Education, Grades 9 and 10:
    Starting with students entering Grade 9 in September 2024, high school students will now be required to earn a Grade 9 or 10 Technological Education credit as part of their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. These two hands-on courses will help students explore and apply the engineering design process and fundamental technological concepts. These skills will give students an opportunity to explore programs and training pathways that can lead to a variety of STEM-related careers, including the skilled trades.

  • Building the Entrepreneurial Mindset, Grade 9 and Launching and Leading a Business, Grade 10:

    In these two new experiential courses, students will begin to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and learn the importance of taking initiative, adapting to change, finding creative solutions to issues, and understanding the financial considerations of entrepreneurship. For example, the Grade 10 course will give students real-life experience on starting and running a business.

  • Exploring Canadian Geography, Grade 9 (de-streamed):
    As part of the continued commitment to de-streaming the Grade 9 program, this course allows students to examine environmental and economic issues, and their impact related to topics such as natural resources, careers, as well as land use and sustainability. It will provide students with an understanding of the connections between STEM and Canada’s natural environment as it connects to Canadian identity and values.

  • Career Studies, Grade 10:
    As announced in May 2023, the ministry is revising the Grade 10 Career Studies course to include additional mandatory learning on mental health literacy. The revised course will help students learn how to recognize signs of being overwhelmed or struggling, as well as where to find help locally when needed.

  • English, Grade 9
    This revised course for French-language schools is aligned with the Grade 9 English course for English-language schools, based on the same structure and strands. It will enable students to continue to develop and consolidate the foundational knowledge and skills they need for reading, writing, and oral and visual communication.

Quick Facts

Quotes

“Black history is Ontario’s history. The journey of Black Ontarians throughout our history is interwoven into the very fabric of our province and was critical to several milestones achieved by Ontario. This knowledge will inspire and empower students to learn about these contributions and continue working together to build a province that welcomes everyone.”

– Charmaine Williams
Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity

 

“Black Canadians have long played a critical role in shaping our province and our country. The introduction of mandatory learning on the experiences, history, culture, and contributions of Black Canadians will ensure the Black leaders, both past and present, who have been essential to the success of our country and province are reflected, and that the next generation of students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for them and their contributions.”

– Michael Ford
Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism

 

“Since its inception, OPSBA’s Black Trustees’ Caucus (BTC) has been advocating for this enhancement to Ontario’s curriculum and we are thrilled it has come to fruition. The minister has said it before, and BTC strongly affirms, Black history is Canadian history. Learning about the Black experience, both past and present, will help all students gain an appreciation of how this country’s rich heritage was formed. We are grateful that the ministry will continue to modernize Ontario’s curriculum through consultation and engagement with Black communities, as it is vital for a range of voices and perspectives to be honoured and valued in the creation of this new curriculum.”

– Kathy McDonald
Chair, Black Trustees’ Caucus for Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA)

 

“For years, community advocates have pressed for year-round inclusion of Black history in our education system, going beyond a single month of recognition. I’m thrilled that our government is now committed to showcasing the countless contributions of Black Canadians to our nation, fostering a more inclusive and equitable education system.”

– Tiffany Ford
Former Toronto District School Board Trustee and Executive Director at Promoting Education and Community Health (PEACH)

 

“Black history is Canadian history. From coast to coast to coast, the Black experience permeates throughout our communities. This announcement slated to include Black Canadian history for Grades 7, 8 and 10 will ensure that students across Ontario will be introduced to stories and profiles inherent to our Canadian identity that celebrates history, diversity and culture. Minister Lecce’s commitment to expanding the Ontario curriculum is another important step in making Ontario’s curriculum a curriculum for all.”

– Shernett Martin
CEO/Executive Director, ANCHOR Canada

 

“The remarkable accomplishments of the people and community of African descent will now, for the first time, be included as mandatory learning in the Ontario education curriculum. The people and community of African descent has greatly enhanced our nation’s and province’s economy and safety, particularly in the fields of education, research and development, medicine, business, sports, festivals, politics, and much more. The cultural, social, and economic fabric of our country has been molded by their tenacity, skills, and contributions. Their victories serve as a reminder of the value of inclusivity and diversity in creating a truly wealthy and just society. As part of the updated Ontario education curriculum, teaching this history of individuals of African heritage ends the practice of telling a single story about our country and helps students become more productive and holistic thinkers.”

– Dave Smith
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development

 

“As the granddaughter of the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, I am thrilled to see the Ontario curriculum incorporating the legacies, stories, and histories of Black Canadians. It is vital that students learn about the contributions and struggles of Black Canadians as they are a fundamental part of Canadian history, and I hope this leads to a more inclusive and inspiring education system for all.”

– Erika Alexander
Granddaughter of the Hon. Lincoln M. Alexander

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