Heads Up

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Message from Scott Cowie, Head, Senior School

Scott CowieUpcoming Senior Division Dates:

  • Wednesday, March 9 – House Hockey Final, Special Schedule
  • Thursday, March 10 – Locker Clean Out
  • Friday, March 11 – Beginning of March Break

I’m not sure if you managed to watch the Oscars last weekend, but even if you didn’t, I’m certain you’re aware there was much more buzz about the lack of diversity amongst nominees than about the actual award winners. Host Chris Rock didn’t pull any punches in addressing the issue, and his fellow celebrities and other entertainment personalities received his opening monologue and his jokes throughout the show with mixed reaction.

As a Canadian-born son of Scottish immigrants, I can’t begin to pretend that I understand much about the issue that dominated the Oscars this year. However, upon reflecting on Rock’s critical commentary on the state of Hollywood at the Oscars, I was reminded of another significant event that took place in a different California city, 25 years ago today. On March 3, 1991, George Holliday captured video footage of four police officers brutally beating Rodney King. A little over a year later, after, those four officers were acquitted and didn’t have to face any legal charges, riots broke out all over Los Angeles and other cities across the U.S. In speaking about the verdict in the King case, then-president George Bush Sr. said: “Viewed from outside the trial, it was hard to understand how the verdict could possibly square with the video. Those civil rights leaders with whom I met were stunned. And so was I and so was Barbara and so were my kids.”

In Monday’s assembly, as a way to celebrate the conclusion of Black History Month, our boys heard from Judge Irving Andre, who currently presides in the Supreme Court of Justice and in 2010 became the first judge in the Ontario Court of Justice to hold a doctoral degree in law. Andre shared his personal story about how he overcame obstacles, including forms of racism, through his unwavering commitment to succeed, and his dedication to bettering himself through his educational pursuits. Andre’s life story was inspiring, but he went beyond talking about details of his own narrative and compelled the boys to think about how they react to adversity in their own lives.

In referencing the plight of Jackie Robinson, the first African American baseball player to play in the major leagues alongside white players, Andre quoted the courageous player’s coach at the time who, at a point when Jackie was faced with much hostility and blatant racism, asked him if he had the “guts not to fight back.” Andre was certainly not advocating that we should passively accept being treated unfairly by others, or to turn a blind eye to inequality. On the contrary, as a former criminal lawyer he fought injustice all the time. Rather, Andre challenged his audience to carefully consider how we respond to situations that have not gone as planned, or how we manage our interactions with others when we feel we’ve been mistreated.

I’d encourage you to speak to your son about Judge Irving’s assembly address, and about how best to respond to any injustice that he may see around him. There may be situations when direct intervention and even confrontation is required, but even in the most difficult of situations, the most effective resolutions are those that are grounded in:

  • a genuine respect for all others involved
  • a desire to understand all points of view
  • a commitment to make things better

Thanks for reading,
Scott