Ontario to make teaching Black history mandatory

by Lincoln Depradine
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By Lincoln Depradine

Ontario is no longer leaving it to educators to decide whether they want to teach some grade students about the history and contribution to Canada by people of African descent.
As of September 2025, the provincial government is making studies of Black history mandatory for kids in Grades 7, 8 and 10.
“We want to keep building our curriculum to make it more relevant to the diverse stories of our country by honouring our past and honouring the sacrifices of our forefathers,” education minister Stephen Lecce said at a news conference Monday. “I see this as nation-building; I see this as strengthening democracy.”
The government unveiled the mandatory Black history learning policy last week, saying its aim is to highlight “the various Black communities that emerged, developed and contributed to the development” of the country before and after 1867, when the confederate nation of Canada was founded.
The policy, the government explained, would allow for students to learn “about the overwhelming contributions of Black individuals to Canada’s foundation as a young nation, and the obstacles they faced in the pursuit of building a democratic, inclusive and prosperous country”.
At Monday’s news conference, Lecce was joined by Black Progressive Conservative MPPs Dave Smith, parliamentary assistant to the minister of immigration and labour and Patrice Barnes, the education minister’s parliamentary assistant.
“The advocacy for teaching Black history has gone on for many, many years,” said Barnes, who promised that there will be outreach to Black historians and other community members in the writing of the curriculum before its implementation next year.
“Black people have been a part of the Canadian story since the 1600s,” she said. “And that’s why we aim to deepen students’ understanding of our country’s diverse and vibrant heritage by embedding this mandatory learning.”
Erika Alexander, granddaughter of the late Lincoln Alexander, Canada’s first Black Member of Parliament and a former Ontario Lieutenant Governor, is among those welcoming the curriculum change.
“I am thrilled to see the Ontario curriculum incorporating the legacies, stories and histories of Black Canadians,” she said.
“It is vital that students learn about the contributions and struggles of Black Canadians, as they are a fundamental part of Canadian history. I hope this leads to a more inclusive and inspiring education system for all.”
The pending curriculum mandate is “another step forward” in building “a more united and inclusive country” and a “modern and pluralistic democracy in strengthening Canadian history “by enshrining the voices and stories of Black Canadians within our curriculum,” said Lecce.
“For many young people, it may be new to them that Black individuals contributed to the country’s founding, before Confederation,” Lecce told reporters.
The education minister called the plan an enhancing of “historical learnings and civic education”, and the promotion of Canadian “democratic values”.
“We have a shared obligation to learn from the past,” said Lecce. “We’ve got to learn from our past if we want to build a better future.”

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