Parents gather at a public trustee meeting, April 24, 2023, to protest the remarks made by WCDSB trustee Wendy Ashby on social media. Photo courtesy PAFE

Waterloo trustee apologizes for 'racist,' 'anti-Christian' tweet

  • April 27, 2023

Wendy Ashby, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) trustee under fire from parents for posts on Twitter deemed as “racist, sexist and anti-Christian,” has broken her public silence with a statement released on the school board’s website. 

“I apologize for my tweets that offended people and I apologize to my board colleagues for how this has impacted them,” stated Ashby in the April 26 statement

The Catholic Register reported on two of Ashby’s tweets. The first read: “The most dangerous creature on the planet is the white Christian male. They’re a threat to anyone that is not them.” The second tweet stated, “Hush Money. Buying silence about being underpaid. White women make obedient soldiers for the christofacist patriarchy.”

Ashby’s statement on the WCDSB website following the apology pivoted to a personal explanation of her mission as a trustee. 

“Conversations about inequality are often uncomfortable,” wrote Ashby. “As a Métis woman and in my professional role, I encounter these discussions regularly and part of these discussions is to challenge our existing systems. A great deal of my education and advocacy work is around understanding and furthering diversity, equity and inclusion.”

She added that she decided to deactivate her Twitter account to ensure her “comments and advocacy will not be taken out of context, in the future.” The trustee also affirmed she remains “dedicated to continuing to work with my colleagues and our community to support all students.”

Ashby was not the only WCDSB official who released a public statement. Earlier the same day, trustee Marisa Philips rebuked her colleague’s online behaviour in a press release.

“I stand with the concerned parents and community members who denounce my colleague’s words,” wrote Philips. “Racism and sexism against any group have no place in our society. These actions become especially heinous when they originate from an elected school board trustee whose hurtful comments are aimed directly at many of the families she has been tasked with representing.”

Philips also declared “our children deserve a healthy learning environment free from inflammatory politics and hateful rhetoric.”

The board also released a statement, the first half concerning Ashby’s conduct. 

“The board of trustees of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board does not support statements made by trustee Wendy Ashby in social media posts,” the release stated. “The board is aware of concerns raised by community members regarding the contents of the posts by trustee Ashby and is doing its due diligence in ensuring that those concerns are heard. Whenever there are allegations of a breach in the code of conduct, the board follows up with a review into those allegations.”

Part two of the board’s printed remarks provided the board’s perspective of what unfolded during a charged open-to-the-public school board meeting on April 24, where concerned parents, championed by the advocacy group Parents as First Educators (PAFE) descended upon the meeting to protest Ashby and the board, and demand that the controversial trustee resign or be terminated from her position. Ashby did not attend this event in person. She tuned in from home. 

When the meeting got underway it was not any of the parents in the gallery who confronted trustees, led by chair Tracey Weiler, but David Menzies, a reporter and on-camera personality with Rebel News. The contentious interaction was taped and shared on social media by the pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition.

Menzies challenged the board to state if they “approve or condemn” Ashby’s behaviour and received a standing ovation from the crowd in attendance. Trustees paused the meeting and exited into the adjacent room, followed by Menzies, his crew and the Campaign Life videographer, though they were barred from entry. Police were called and the “meeting resumed and trustees received the presentation from the meeting’s sole registered delegation.”

Teresa Pierre, the founder of PAFE, attended the meeting in person. She wrote in an email to The Catholic Register that “seven police cruisers responded.”

Pierre said she had no foreknowledge that Rebel News was going to attend the meeting. She shared her disappointment over the board exiting the room instead of responding to Menzies and the parents.

“The conflict shows that the public is demanding answers from the board, and won’t be satisfied with complete and utter silence. The board has a credibility problem at this point and can’t continue to rely on external forces to keep order. Sooner or later the board needs to address these racist remarks publicly and not make private decisions in back rooms.”

When the meeting resumed, the delegate invited to speak was parent Ahmed Kassad, a former public board trustee candidate. 

“I believe that the act of singling out any race or gender and perpetuating stereotypes based on that race or gender, can be clearly defined as racist behaviour,” said Kassad. “And I have no confidence or trust in anyone in a leadership position who displays this hateful behaviour.

“Seeing a trustee make these disgusting remarks, is a sure sign that this trustee subscribes to woke ideologies based on critical race theory. These concepts that teach that white people are oppressors have no merit and do harm to everyone exposed to them.” 

On the PAFE website there is a petition demanding Ashby’s removal that sought 2,000 signatures. It has 3,017 as of April 27. 

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