Ottawa’s Jewish community has a message for their school board: ‘Nothing about us, without us’

Deena Friedman, left, and Andrea Freedman have spoken out against the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board for its handling of internal antisemitism training. (Supplied photos)

On Sept. 13, 2022, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board held a special meeting. They were finally set to discuss a brewing fiasco in which the board, last spring, disinvited Irwin Cotler, Canada’s special envoy on combatting antisemitism, from giving a speech to senior staff. In his stead, they invited a PhD with a deep background in Palestinian human rights and anti-racism education.

The move angered the local Jewish community, sparking a new battleground in the ongoing war between pro- and anti-Israel activists, which is increasingly being played out in government departments, university campuses and public school boards just like this one.

Andrea Freedman, the president and CEO of Ottawa’s Jewish Federation, sent scathing statements to the board, her community and Steven Lecce, Ontario’s minister of education. She joins the show today to discuss the community’s reaction and where she feels the board went wrong. After that, you’ll hear from the board’s director of education, Camille Williams-Taylor, and Deena Friedman, a high school student and young Jewish activist who explains what life is really like in the classrooms and hallways.

What we talked about:


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Production assistance by Gabrielle Nadler and YuZhu Mou. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.