Student Project Aims To Use Education To Eradicate Racism


Spearheaded by two Grade 11 students, a mural being unveiled at Chippewa Secondary School commemorates Black history and the power of education to eradicate racism.

The project was designed and coordinated by Rainat Salako and Omobola Agboola as their Creativity, Activity Service (CAS) project in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

Rainat says, “This project began because I wanted to think of a way to bring cultural awareness to the school. As a student of colour, I felt as if I was not being represented in the art around me. I wanted to change that and help others feel welcomed and acknowledged at our school. I believe this project will help to accomplish that.”

“I wanted to do this project because I believed that our school needed some more representation from the Black community, not just during Black History Month but also throughout the year and the years to come. I believe this mural is a great way to leave a legacy and to give a friendly reminder to people about the Black community, not just once a year but every day,” says Omobola.

She and Rainat said the project had a few challenges, which were overcome with support from their project sponsor, staff and students.

The project came to fruition with the help of Ashley Oszytko, an intermediate art teacher at Chippewa who took the lead on supporting the students. Oszytko says,
“Representation in our schools is so important and this mural will be a reminder that all Chippewa students are beautiful, strong, and important. We embrace different cultures, races, genders, and beliefs here at Chippewa, and the raised clenched fist will now be a permanent reminder that anti-racism begins here in the hallways of our schools.”

Stephanie Silverthorn, the IB CAS coordinator, helped the girls develop their idea, coordinate the logistics of sourcing materials and arranging working sessions with volunteers. She says, “The purpose of the CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) project is to enable students to work collaboratively in a leadership capacity to enact positive change. Rainat and Omobola have done a beautiful job of identifying a concept that is of importance both to them individually and to our school community as a whole. Their vision and teamwork have resulted in a powerful piece of art that will have a lasting impact on the students and staff within our building. I am so proud of them.”

Chippewa’s principal, Krista Tucker Petrick, is grateful for the legacy created by Rainat and Omobola. “They generously shared their vision to showcase Black brilliance during Black History month and to ensure that there was artwork in the school that reflected African, Caribbean and Black identifying students. The dedication of Omobola and Rainat is evident in the wonderful mural that has been created and will be hung in the halls of the school. Staff here are appreciative of the effort and care that went into the organization and painting of the artwork and the daily information that was shared by these students on the announcements during February.

“I am grateful to Rainat and Omobola for being such amazing leaders in the school. I would also like to express my thanks to Dr. Julius Agboola for sponsoring the mural,” says Tucker Petrick.


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