A white ex-principal committed suicide after he was accused of white supremacy for confronting a black instructor who claimed racism was worse in Canada than in the US.
The incident occurred in Toronto, Canada during anti-racism training, according to the Daily Mail.
Richard Bilkszto, 60, had worked in the Toronto School District for 24 years. He also taught high school in Buffalo, New York. The former principal had been sitting in as a fill-in principal at the Burnhamthorpe Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke. During the anti-racism training that took place in 2021, he reportedly got into a spat with the trainer and then faced harrowing workplace bullying over it.
Earlier this year, he filed a lawsuit asserting that his reputation was “systematically demolished.” He was branded as a white supremacist after the incident for questioning racism in Canada.
RIP Professor Richard Bilkszto, 60
He was driven to suicide after being falsely smeared as a white supremacist by his DEI colleague pic.twitter.com/c3zHViCE7M
— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) July 24, 2023
Evidently, he broke under the stress and pressure, taking his own life. Bilkszto’s attorney, Lisa Bildy, announced on July 13 via Twitter that he had committed suicide.
“Unfortunately, the stress and effects of these incidents continued to plague Richard,” she wrote at length on the social media platform. “Last week, he succumbed to this distress. His family and friends have been left feeling and wishing they could have had the chance to convince him that he was loved, respected and needed here.”
With his family’s permission, I am very saddened to release this statement about the passing of my client, Richard Bilkszto. pic.twitter.com/mNzMAxkp5V
— Lisa Bildy (@LDBildy) July 20, 2023
All of this started on April 26, 2021, when an anti-racism training session was held for Toronto District School Board educators. It was led by Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) trainer Kike Ojo-Thompson, the founder of the KOJO Institute, a consulting firm.
According to the Toronto Star, Bilkszto charged in his lawsuit that Ojo-Thompson told educators that Canada was more racist than the US because it “never reckoned with its anti-black history.”
The former principal took issue with her assertion. He called it “an incredible disservice to our learners” to suggest that the United States is less racist than Canada according to the lawsuit. The suit went on to say that Ojo-Thompson reacted to his statement “with vitriol.”
According to documents, she blasted Bilkszto for trying to undermine a black woman.
No organization should ever hire the @KojoInstitute again.
I’ve heard the audio tapes of the Richard Bilkszto sessions. Kike Ojo-Thompson profits off of sowing division. This harmful scam must be stopped.
— Anthony Furey (@anthonyfurey) July 22, 2023
“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 snarled at him.
The former principal reportedly tried to calm things down, admitting that there was anti-black racism in Canada. But he also contended that the evidence suggested “we are a far more just society” than the US.
The next week, Ojo-Thompson held another training session where she brought up the same argument. She asserted to Bilkszto and the other educators present that his stance was a “real life” example of someone supporting white supremacy.
That’s evidently when workplace bullying began for Bilkszto. It allegedly caused “severe emotional distress.” As a result, he took a stress leave and then filed a “mental stress injury” claim with Canada’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. They gave him two months of lost earnings in response to the complaint.
We are mourning the passing of Richard Bilkszto, beloved educator, humanitarian, friend and member of SOS TDSB.
He ended his life on July 13, as a result of events which undermined his mental health and well-being.
— Save Our Schools TDSB (@SOSTDSB) July 20, 2023
An investigation was opened up by the board into Bilkszto’s claims. They found that Ojo-Thompson’s conduct was “abusive, egregious and vexatious, and rises to the level of workplace harassment and bullying.”
Following the former principal’s six-week medical leave, the Toronto school district refused to reinstate him. He claimed it was because of the incident and/or the ensuing investigation. That situation probably contributed to the taking of his own life. His lawsuit never made it to court.
Bilkszto actively advocated against the school district’s programs which were aimed at tackling inequity according to the Toronto Star.
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