Statement on Racism

“Your example, even more than your words, will be an eloquent lesson to the world.” –St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, RSCJ

 

Dear Sacred Heart Community,

I am writing today to address the intolerable act of violent racism we witnessed on May 25 in Minneapolis. At Sacred Heart, we stand in support of the Society of the Sacred Heart’s recent Statement on Racism. The death of Mr. George Floyd serves as the most recent example of a long history of both individual and systemic racism not only in the USA, but also in our own country. As a community committed to Goal III, social awareness which impels to action, I challenge each and every one of us to complete a soul searching exercise to better ourselves and to renew our commitment to a world where each human being fully enjoys the dignity God has given each of his children. This letter is an invitation to all of us to reflect on the values of our society and to act for justice.

Many in our community have come from recent immigration; some are from Indigenous communities. Many of our parents, grand-parents and ancestors suffered from exclusion, violence, and discrimination. Some in the Sacred Heart community still do. As such, we owe them to fight against the forces of racism and dehumanization that plagued them, and sometimes still does.

Looking at the violence we witnessed in the killing of Mr. Floyd, the temptation to absolve ourselves of the sin of racism is easy to succumb to. But, as our Prime Minister, Mr. Justin Trudeau, said yesterday: “It is time for us Canadians to recognize that we too have our challenges, that Black Canadians and racialized Canadians face discrimination as a lived reality every single day. There is systemic discrimination in Canada.” Realizing that there are no degrees of racism, only degrees of violence that express it, and that we may even be unwitting accomplices in systemic discrimination, we must pledge to commit to an active disciplining of our own actions.

As a girls’ school, we have a vested interest in eliminating any dehumanizing bias in our society. We must be vehemently opposed to any bias including those based on color, race, religion or indeed gender. We must be advocates for the people who are poor, marginalized, and suffering from injustice. Bringing about change in our society starts with a commitment to change in ourselves. We must commit as individuals to stand firm for our values of justice and equality for all, to check our own biases, and to remain true to our principles of nonviolence, conflict resolution and peacemaking.

To our parents, guardians and faculty, thank you for teaching our children that we are all created in God’s image and that we are all united and equal in God’s eyes. Students see us as role models and draw their values from us who help mold them.

The Sacred Heart School of Montreal is fully committed to providing our students with a learning community that rejects racism and educates to an understanding of the human dignity of all persons. I invite each student to engage in a meaningful dialogue with their parents, teachers, siblings and friends, and together we can all make the world a better place.

Sincerely,

Shawn O’Donnell
Head of School