Students at St. Thomas High School outraged after incident involving Black lecturer

Click to play video: 'Montreal high school students take a stand against racist incident' Montreal high school students take a stand against racist incident
WATCH: A West Island high school teacher is coming under fire for hurling insults at a black lecturer during an anti-racism event. The incident happened Thursday, during an online workshop on the history of racist language at St-Thomas High School. Guest speaker Omari Newton was interrupted by the teacher, insulted and sworn at before being cut off. As Global's Tim Sargeant explains, while the school board has apologized for the incident, the students who witnessed the verbal attack say that's not good enough. – Mar 26, 2021

Omari Newton was giving a presentation on the historical significance of the “N” word at St. Thomas High School in Pointe-Claire, Que., when he was abruptly interrupted and verbally attacked by one of the teachers, he told Global News.

“On mic in front of hundreds of students and staff, he swore at me,” Newton said.

The guest lecturer was talking to dozens of students on Thursday as he has been doing in front of many other students at high schools that are part of the Lester B Pearson School Board.

Read more: Montreal students get a history lesson about the N-word

But at St. Thomas High, Newton’s history lesson during anti-racism week was derailed.

“Interrupting a Black presenter, a rare Black presenter, at a school talking about anti-racism as a white man in that way and cursing at them is a form of white supremacy.” Newton said.

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Students who spoke with Global News and who attended the lecture say they were disgusted by the teacher’s behaviour.

“Appalled. That… was just very disrespectful you know. During the presentation you should be listening. If you have a problem with it, talk afterward, not in front of all the students. It’s a bad representation of St. Thomas also,” secondary five (grade 11) student Meagan Walford told Global News.

Her friend and classmate agrees.

“It was very disrespectful. I don’t want to see a teacher like that being represented,” Amyah Morris-Delvaille told Global News.

Read more: Lester B. Pearson School Board votes to review policies, create racism action plan

Global News reached out to the teacher but never received a reply.

Cindy Finn, director general of the LBPSB, sent a letter to parents and guardians of the students writing that the comments made by the staff member were “inappropriate, unprofessional, and most importantly, disrespectful towards our guest presenter…I can assure you that we intend to follow up on this incident swiftly and pursue appropriate action with the employee.”

The chairperson of the school board told Global News the administration is investigating.

“The administration is conducting a full investigation and we will act appropriately on that,” Noel Burke told Global News.

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Newton is not calling for the teacher’s suspension or removal from the school, but he condemns the teacher’s behaviour.

“I would feel unsafe as a student in that school and I know that there have been students who expressed to the administration they were very disturbed by witnessing this, so I think at very least an apology issued from this teacher,” Newton said.

His lectures on anti-racism and the significance of the “N” word at schools of the LBPSB end Friday.


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