QUEEN’S PARK— MPP Jill Andrew (Toronto-St. Paul’s), NDP critic for Culture, Heritage and Women’s Issues, has put forward a motion in the legislature calling on the Ford government to mandate training for Black, Indigenous and racialized people's natural and textured hair within Ontario’s Hairstyling Program Standard as a step towards ending race-based hair discrimination in the workplace and school.
The motion would embed within the Guidelines for Film and Television Industry that mandatory culturally responsive hairstylist training specific to Black, Indigenous, and racialized people's natural and textured hair be included within the hairstyling trade so hairstylists in training receive inclusive education on all hair types not only those that emphasize Eurocentric hair textures and beauty ideals such as straight and chemically relaxed hairstyles and treatments.
“In days such as today, the International Day to End Racial Discrimination, it is important that decision-makers take actual steps towards combatting racial discrimination. Black actors and performers in Ontario’s film and television and theatre industry have long faced exclusion, injury and misunderstanding in their workplace due to stylists’ inexperience and lack of training in the proper styling and treatment of Black, Indigenous, and racialized people's natural and textured hair,” Andrew said.
"Hairstyling training in Ontario currently only focusses on cutting, designing, permanent waving, chemically relaxing, straightening and colouring hair, but does not have any instruction or practice to ensure every hairstylist can service Black people's natural hair or the textured hair of many Indigenous and/or racialized community members, whether performers or otherwise.
“Ontario’s film, television and theatre industries must reflect the diversity of its performers, so must the hairstyling trade. BIPOC performers deserve to feel comfortable, confident, and safe when being styled in their industry, and that means ensuring that hair schools province-wide teach practices for styling natural and textured hair. Too many diverse performers experience undue hardship, such as having to pay out of pocket to do their own hair before arriving on set, which creates a double whammy for many diverse performers who have already been hit disproportionately during the pandemic. And for performers who speak out, there is often fear of reprisal or being labelled as troublemakers in the industry, which can lessen their chances for audition callbacks and ultimately hurts them economically.
“I urge the Ford government to immediately pass my motion, so that we can build greater inclusion and safety into the province’s performance and hairstyling industry as well as create more job opportunities for all hairstylists including Black, Indigenous, and racialized stylists who have familiarity with natural and textured hair. The Hairstyling Program Standard regulations must be amended. The Liberals were asked by BIPOC community members to fix this regulatory omission years ago and the liberals did nothing. Today, the Ford government has a chance to step up for BIPOC performers and community members. I hope the Ford government listens to me and the community and acts in the name of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
MPP Jill Andrew’s Protecting Our Crowns motion:
That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should amend the Hairstyling Program Standard to mandate culturally-responsive training specific to Black, Indigenous and racialized people's natural and textured hair, and embed this within the Guidelines for the Film and Television Industry with specific timelines for its full implementation, to promote health and safety in Ontario’s film, television and theatre sectors for all performers and community members, create Ontario jobs and build capacity in the province.
Aisha Loobie, Founder, Crown N Glory Natural Hair Studio:
“Ms. Andrew's motion is very necessary. It's actually unfortunate that we have to put forth a motion in order to ask our government for textured hair to be taught in schools/film industry, especially because textured hair is hair and should be taught in hair schools everywhere. This is a recurring concern in the textured hair community, whether it be stylists who need better education on textured hair practices or clients looking for stylists that are properly trained on how to manage textured hair with expertise.”
Alicia Payne, Multidisciplinary Storyteller:
“Expanding Ontario’s Hairstyling Program standards to include the natural textures of all Ontarians will have social and economic benefits in and beyond the arts and cultural industries.”
Dalmar Abuzeid, Actor and Producer:
“This motion is simply about demanding proper consideration for Black performers’ hair before we walk in to a hair and make-up room and are subjected to an exclusionary standard, as too many of us have been and continue to be.”
Samora Smallwood, Actress/Creator/ACTRA Toronto Councillor, former ACTRA Toronto Diversity & Inclusion Co-Chair, and founder of the Actor's Work Studio
"Motion 35 is of utmost importance in the fight for true equity and fairness in the Film and Television industry of Ontario. Motion 35, "Protecting Our Crowns", will be a powerful tool to ensure that all performers who identify as Black and racialized will receive the same excellence and expertise in hair care as their peers. As a Biracial-Black actress, I have often had experiences onset where there was a lack of understanding and care about my textured hair. Such treatment can be demoralizing and may detract from Black performers' ability to provide authentic representation on screen and show up as their best selves to do their best work. Motion 35 represents a powerful and resonant step toward equality in our industry and society."