Friday, 31 January 2020

Educator Sworn In as a Member of the Toronto Police Services Board


By Neil Armstrong

Photo credit: Ainsworth Morgan       Ainsworth Morgan has been appointed by the Province of Ontario to the Toronto Police Services Board


 Ainsworth Morgan, who has been appointed by the Province of Ontario to the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB), was sworn in as a member at its meeting at police headquarters on January 22. The veteran educator will serve for a term of three years.

Currently the principal of Pelmo Park Public School in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the dedicated educator, mentor and community organizer for 20 years is committed to the students and families he serves, both inside and outside the classroom.

As a member of the TPSB he will attend one meeting each month so he will only be missing one day each month from his school.

Morgan says he has always been involved in working with community agencies and the police so when he heard that there was an opening on the civilian body which provides oversight of the Toronto Police Service he decided to put in an application.

Morgan said he examined his professional and lived experience and saw this as an opportunity to bring a unique voice to the table.

“I think being in a seat at the table is something that I feel, given my skillsets and experience, I have something to offer that I think could be beneficial to bridging the gap between the community and police.”

Acknowledging that there is an incredible challenge ahead, Morgan said he has never been one to shy away from challenges and that he has a lot to learn and a willingness to do the work and listen.

Morgan, who grew up in Regent Park with his Jamaican mother and his brother, notes that he has been able to see policing from multiple angles.

“I’ve seen the good and bad, in terms of policing,” he says noting that as a father of three – two boys, ages 20 and 16, and a girl, 14 – doing his part to make sure that they are safe from anyone who wants to do them harm, civilian or police, within the city is very important.

“As a parent, as an educator I would not only want my children to be safe but everyone else’s children,” said Morgan who became a teacher at Park Public School (now Nelson Mandela Park Public School) in 2000, a school he attended as a student   and was subsequently appointed as its vice principal in 2013.

As a Black man who grew up in the city and who had positive and negative interactions with the police. Morgan says he will bring all of the lessons that he learned as a young person and as an adult to the table.

As a supporter of community policing, Morgan said when it is done right it works and his hope is to look at those areas where it is working and figure how it can be expanded.

He said there is a lot of learning that he has to do in the role at the TPSB and he is ready for it.

Morgan hopes that people will give him the opportunity to learn and that their expectations won’t be to see immediate results at his first board meeting.

He said as a member of the TPSB it is important to remember that he is a voice, not the voice and he looks forward to working collaboratively.

Following a career as a professional football player, including with the Toronto Argonauts, Morgan pursued a career in education, obtaining his Bachelor of Education and Masters of Education at the Ontario Institute for Students in Education at the University of Toronto. This was in addition to his Bachelor of Science in Criminology he received from the University of Toledo prior to entering the CFL.

Upon completing his B.Ed., Morgan returned to Regent Park, where he had spent his childhood, and began his education career as a teacher with the TDSB in September 2000.

Facilitating equitable access to education is at the core of Morgan’s approach to teaching. It was with that in mind that he accepted a secondment as the academic coordinator with the Pathways To Education Program-Regent Park — a charitable organization created to reduce poverty and increase access to post-secondary education among disadvantaged youth in Canada.

In 2012, Morgan co-founded the 100 Strong Foundation — a mentoring and advocacy group for Black boys between the ages of 11 to 14. 

He currently serves on the board of directors for White Ribbon Canada — an organization that engages men and boys in the prevention of gender-based violence by promoting equity and transforming social norms.

Morgan follows in the footsteps of other Jamaican Canadians who have served on the TPSB such as Hamlin Grange, Sylvia Hudson and Roy Williams.

[This story has been published in the North American Weekly Gleaner, January 30-February 5, 2020.

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