'Kill All N-----s': School With 'Harambe' Yearbook Message Had Another Racist Write-Up

A former student said grad quotes ceased after the previous incident and had just been reinstated.
Manisha Krishnan
Toronto, CA
October 19, 2020, 2:35pm
St. Mary school
A St. Mary student wrote a racist yearbook message in 2013. Photo via St. Mary Catholic Secondary School

The Ontario Catholic school under fire for a racist yearbook message referring to the dead gorilla Harambe had temporarily banned yearbook quotes following another racist grad write-up in 2013, according to a former student. 

A 2013 yearbook for St. Mary Catholic Secondary School in Pickering, just east of Toronto, features the racist and violent message “kill all n-----s” spelled backwards in the write-up for a graduating white male student. 

Advertisement

The racist message appeared on the male student's grad writeup, next to the acronym WWYBI20Y, which stands for “Where will you be in 20 years?” 

A grad from the school sent VICE News a photo of the write-up. 

In an email, Durham Catholic District School Board said, “This incident occurred in 2013. It was investigated by school administration that was at the school during that time and actions were taken.” 

The school board did not elaborate on what was done. 

But a recent grad said yearbook quotes were eliminated following the incident and had been brought back this year—only for another racist message to get published. 

The school board is currently conducting an investigation into a racist incident that targeted Joshua Telemaque, a Black student whose grad tribute to his dead grandmother was replaced with the message “Rip Harambe Dooga booga.O.”  

Harambe is a reference to a gorilla who died in 2016 at Cincinnati Zoo. The phrase “ooga booga” is sometimes used in memes as a derogatory way of mocking Black people. 

“In a time where we are taking intentional steps to address systemic discrimination and anti-Black racism, we would like to extend a direct apology to the Black community that we serve,” the school board’s previous statement said.

The school board said disciplinary action and/or restorative justice will be pursued.

The school is recalling all 2020 yearbooks and has launched a survey asking students if their grad quotes were altered. 

Advertisement

According to the Toronto Star, Durham police said nine other students’ yearbook quotes were altered this year, including another message with “racist undertones” and one that criticized a female student’s body. 

The former student, who did not want to be named due to privacy concerns, said the yearbook is made by a Grade 11 class and that this year everyone sent their grad quotes in online, due to the pandemic. 

“I think everyone’s just really ashamed,” the student said. “Nobody wants to be associated with the school anymore.” 

In a previous statement, Telemaque’s mother Marva said her son has been subjected to repeated racist bullying at St. Mary over the years. 

Telemaque, a football player, held a birthday celebration on October 14, at which the Toronto Argonauts football team and Pinball Clemons Foundation offered him a four-year scholarship to any Canadian university. 

“Someone tried to humiliate my son but people from all over the world have come together to support him,” Marva said in a previous statement. 

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter