Richard Bilkszto was 60 years old and had been in education for 24 years. He was an advocate for anti-bias training, as reported by the National Post. The DEI organization, the KOJO Institute, facilitated the initial DEI meeting.
After Bilkszto made the comments in the DEI training that Canada wasn't as racist as the US and had a lot of good to offer, the facilitators repeatedly referenced his comments in other sessions as an example of white supremacy.
After this struggle session, his colleages on the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) distanced itself from him. One member of the board even thanked the facilitators for "modelling the discomfort administrators may need to experience."
The day after the second training, Bilkszto was so distraught that he stayed away from work for more than a month on paid leave.
When he returned, the TDSB refused to reinstate him in his prior appointment and disinvited him from attending a graduation ceremony, all because he had said the US was more racist than Canada, and this had been determined to be racist.
After other steps were taken, he filed a lawsuit against TDSB administrators. TDSB responded by suing KOJO, but that lawsuit, the National Post was told, is going to be rescinded.
"Unfortunately, the stress and effects of these incidents continued to plague Richard. Last week he succumbed to this distress,” a statement put out by the family and posted by Bilkszto's lawyer, Lisa Bildy. "His family and friends have been left reeling and wishing they could have had the chance to convince him that he was loved respected, and needed here. May he rest in peace."
The statement read that Bilkszto had spoken out "against the lottery system for specialized programs the TBDS had introduced which removed and consideration for merit."
The KOJO Institute, the organization which led the DEI training, has made its Twitter profile private after backlash has happened since the passing of Bilkszto.
The KOJO Institute made a statement, saying, "We recently learned of the passing of Mr. Richard Bilkszto. We offer our condolences to his loved ones and colleagues during this difficult time.”
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