Jamie Sarkonak: Toronto principal bullied over false charge of racism dies from suicide
If there was anything Richard Bilkszto was born to do, it was to be a principal.
Bilkszto’s career as an educator spanned 24 years, in which time he was an advocate for anti-discrimination and public education. Last Thursday, he took his own life. He was 60 years old.
His stellar career took on a sour note after he was bullied in a diversity, equity and inclusion training session for Toronto District School Board (TDSB) administrators in 2021, according to a lawsuit Bilkszto filed in court. His sin, in the eyes of facilitators at the KOJO Institute, was his questioning of their claim that Canada was a more racist place than the United States. Canada wasn’t perfect, he said, but it still offers a lot of good. For the rest of the training session, and throughout a follow-up training session the week after, facilitators repeatedly referred to Bilkszto’s comments as examples of white supremacy. The experience was humiliating — particularly because Bilkszto placed a great emphasis on equality and anti-discrimination during his career.