EMSB Announces its Decision to Redact Highly Offensive Reference to Black Community Members in Secondary IV Workbook

Montreal - Thursday, October 29, 2020

The English Montreal School Board today announced its proactive decision to redact a specific section of the Journeys through the history of Québec and Canada/Parcours du Québec et du Canada (Les Éditions CEC) student workbook used in Secondary IV (Grade 10) history classes across many of its schools.

“It was brought to our attention earlier this week that a workbook used by many of our students includes a highly offensive reference to members of the black community,” said EMSB Trustee Marlene Jennings.  “The specific reference is one of a book published in the 1960s whose title does not respect the values of our School Board and has no place in our society.”

“The offensive reference will be redacted by inserting an explanatory sticker outlining the reason why the specific demeaning word had been covered,” added EMSB Interim Director General Evelyne Alfonsi. “This action will provide an opportunity for a teachable moment by generating meaningful dialogue around this sensitive and important world issue. Additional pedagogical materials will be made available to teachers in that context.”

References included in student textbooks, be they in history, literature, or the arts often portray dishonorable periods of world history. While these references are in no way aligned with the values shared by the EMSB community, they provide an opportunity for our teachers to host a respectful and meaningful exchange with students to promote gender and racial equality, human rights, while denouncing racism, slavery and any form of discrimination. Meaningful dialogue with an understanding of the relevant context affords for learning and greater acceptance.

When language or images are used in a way that is disrespectful to members of the community as in this particular instance, action is necessary. 

About the English Montreal School Board

With a youth and adult sector population of more than 37, 000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines. Our network consists of 77 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at

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