By now, you have probably heard the tragic story of former Toronto District School Board (TDSB) principal Richard Bilkszto, an esteemed educator with 24 years’ experience. In 2021, he attended two TDSB-mandated diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) sessions, led by the KOJO Institute, during which the facilitator, Kike Ojo-Thompson, berated him for challenging her statement that Canada was a more racist place than the United States.
“We are here to talk about anti-Black racism, but you in your whiteness think that you can tell me what’s really going on for Black people,” she allegedly said, and then reportedly proceeded to berate him in a second session as a “real life” example of someone supporting white supremacy.
Bilkszto, who himself had spoken out against racism during his career, was devastated. Bilkszto went on stress leave and sought support from Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, which found he had been subject to workplace harassment. When he got back from leave, the board refused to reinstate his contract. He then filed a civil suit against the TDSB, seeking additional damages and an apology.
But Bilkszto never fully recovered from the pain caused by the damage to his reputation and his soul. On July 13, he ended his life. According to a statement authorized by his family, “The stress and effects of these incidents continued to plague Richard. Last week he succumbed to this distress.”