Sir Robert Borden High School: Students charged following antisemitic incident

Two students are facing hate crime charges after an antisemitic incident at an Ottawa high school last month.

The hate incident happened at Sir Robert Borden High School on Dec. 1. The students have been charged with public incitement of hatred, mischief and criminal harassment, Ottawa police said in a news release Tuesday.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board confirmed the incident last month. The board said that after an extracurricular activity, two Jewish students were called into a room by other students.

When they entered, they witnessed a large swastika displayed on the floor and one student made a Nazi salute. Police said Tuesday that one student created and displayed a hate symbol in the school and another used antisemitic language and gestures.

The two students aren’t being named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. They are due in court “at a later date,” police said.

The OCDSB said the school administration launched an investigation as soon as it became aware of the incident. The board said following the investigation, a plan was put in place to discipline the students responsible.

In a statement on Tuesday, the OCDSB said it stands against antisemitism.

“Jewish students, families and staff have the right to feel safe at school and in the community. Acts of antisemitism, hate and intolerance are unacceptable,” a board spokesman said. “Since this incident, the school has taken a number of steps to respond to concerns of antisemitism and the safety of students. This work will continue in 2023.”

The incident sparked a discussion at a board meeting in late December, with some expressing concern the board was not doing enough to respond to rising hate toward Jewish students and staff.

The spokesman said Tuesday that prior to the winter break, a presentation to Sir Robert Borden students highlighted some next steps, including growing student and staff understanding of antisemitism and its impacts, reporting incidents of antisemitism and improving followup with students and families impacted, and working. with the school’s Jewish Student Union to support students.

The school is also partnering with Jewish organizations in assemblies and classroom learning, the statement said, and learning about the Holocaust, particularly in preparation for International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27 and Holocaust education month in November.

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