Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montréal, June 25, 2020 - The mother of the Black youth who was personally targeted in a racist video made by two John Rennie High School students, in which they were dancing and singing while wearing blackface, and uttering racial slurs, has asked CRARR to file a civil rights complaint to the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.

The video, which specifically targets the 15 year old youth, came to public attention last week and has since been widely circulated on social media. To protect his and his mother’s privacy and security, the youth cannot be identified.

“We want to hold people accountable under the law for their racist conduct aimed to harass, hurt and denigrate my son and I,” the mother said. “We want to end blackface and the use of the N-word.”

CRARR will file a complaint against the girls for intentionally and publicly violating the youth and his mother’s rights to equality without racial discrimination and harassment, to dignity and to the integrity of the person — rights which are guaranteed in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

In particular, CRARR will submit in its complaints that blackface constitutes a “symbol involving discrimination” which is prohibited by s. 11 of the Quebec Charter. If this argument is upheld by the Human Rights Commission, and eventually by the Human Rights Tribunal, it can have the effect of declaring blackface a civil rights violation and an illegal symbol of racism and hate in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, which will make its users and promoters liable under civil rights legislation.

“Blackface is an evil symbol that some people continue to use to denigrate Black people, for that reason, we want it to be declared illegal,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi. “There should be a high price to pay for those who still don’t get it.”

At its meeting three days ago, the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB), which runs John Rennie High School, adopted a statement in which it “denounces racism and discrimination in all forms” and “deeply regret[s] the anger and pain generated within [the LBPSB] community”.

The Board also stated that it will “look to provide … students and staff with opportunities, both in and out of the classroom, to learn about and discuss issues that affect disenfranchised communities and highlight the historical context of these important topics.”

There is, however, little mention as to what the School Board has done, or is presently doing concretely about the two girls in the video and the climate in its schools. According to news reports, the Board's motion called for the creation of a task-force composed of school staff, students, commissioners and community representatives by Sept. 1st to identify measures with the help of the Board’s intercultural advisory committee.