9 more yearbook entries tampered with at school where Black student’s tribute changed to racist slur: police

Ontario police investigating how a Black student’s yearbook tribute to his grandmother was replaced with a racist slur now say nine more students have come forward saying their submitted quotations were also tampered with.

In a news release Friday, the Durham Regional Police Service said the nine students at the Pickering, Ont., school are a mix of female and male students from various cultural backgrounds.

Police said one of the nine additional entries changed had racist undertones. In addition, they said a female student was criticized about her body image, while one male student was criticized for his grades.

Durham police have been interviewing faculty and students at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School after student Joshua Telemaque’s yearbook entry — which was supposed to read “RIP Grandma. Thank you for guiding me through my four years of high school” — was changed to “RIP Harambe Dooga booga.O.”

Harambe refers to a gorilla that was killed at a Cincinnati, Ohio, zoo in 2016. 

In a letter sent to students and staff and dated Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, St. Mary principal Susan Duane said the yearbooks were distributed Saturday and the school was “horrified to discover that inappropriate comments were unknowingly published.” 

The school said it has launched an investigation with the Durham Regional Police Service “to ensure that all individuals responsible are held accountable.”

Telemaque’s aunt, Mayma Raphael, has said she believes a group of students and at least one teacher were responsible for handling the yearbook.

The school ordered students to return their yearbooks earlier this week and said a full inventory would take place to make sure every copy is accounted for.

News of the changes to Telemaque’s yearbook entry sparked widespread condemnation as well as an outpouring of love and support.

After his story began making headlines both in Canada and internationally, dozens of strangers — including five Toronto Raptors players — sent Telemaque birthday well wishes that were compiled in a video online. You can watch it here.

Read more at CBC.ca