(LifeSiteNews) — The so-called “diversity, inclusion and equity” consulting firm named as a potential causal factor in the suicide death of 60-year-old Toronto District School Board (TDSB) principal Richard Bilkszto has made tens of thousands of dollars via government contracts in recent years.
In addition, the KOJO Institute boasts a lengthly client list featuring prestigious universities, school boards, and numerous other high-profile institutions.
According to a list of Canadian federal government contracts posted on social media by pro-family activist and former teacher Chanel Pfahl, the KOJO Institute has made at least $96,196.90 in taxpayer funds since 2021, providing so-called “diversity” training and courses to Employment and Social Development Canada and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada. In addition to the taxpayer-funded contracts, the embattled institute’s website features a long list of other government or government-affiliated clients, including the Halton Catholic District School Board, the York Catholic District School Board, the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, the Government of Ontario, the University of Toronto, the Children’s Aid Society, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) among others.
While the exact amount of money exchanged between most of these clients and the KOJO Institute is unknown, The Observer reported in March 2022 that the KOJO Institute charged the Ontario city of Sarnia a whopping $6,500 for a four-hour Zoom training session.
The CBC noted at the time that the session with the Sarnia City Council was ultimately cut short after just two hours when things “turned hostile,” leading to city officials to call for a formal review.
As reported by LifeSiteNews, the KOJO Institute and its founder and CEO Kike Ojo-Thompson have come under intense, international scrutiny in recent weeks following the revelation that 60-year-old TDSB principal Richard Bilkszto committed suicide after allegedly being bullied, harassed, and mocked by Ojo-Thompson in one of her organization’s diversity sessions with the TDSB in the spring of 2021.
After the training session, Bilkszto filed a lawsuit against the TDSB over his alleged treatment during the program, and accused Ojo-Thompson of having “implicitly referred to [him] as a racist and a white supremacist” after he pushed back on her reported comments that Canada was more racist than the United States.
According to the session transcripts included in Bilkszto’s suit, Ojo-Thompson replied to the now-deceased man’s objections by saying his words were the “operation of white supremacy” and a “perfect example of resistance.”
Following the incident, Bilkszto’s colleagues reportedly began to distance themselves from him, leading the man to go on paid leave.
Ultimately, on July 13, 2023, Bilkszto died by suicide. According to a statement released by Bilkszto’s family through his lawyer Lisa Bildy, his passing was a direct result of the “stress and effects” of the KOJO Institute incident.
With his family’s permission, I am very saddened to release this statement about the passing of my client, Richard Bilkszto. pic.twitter.com/mNzMAxkp5V
— Lisa Bildy (@LDBildy) July 20, 2023
After the news of Bilkszto’s suicide went viral on social media, Ontario Education Minister Stephan Lecce ordered an inquiry into the man’s death.
Responding to the allegations that her company is, at least in part, responsible for driving Bilkszto to suicide, Ojo-Thompson said her conduct during the 2021 session was mischaracterized and that she “welcomes” a review by the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Ojo-Thompson then accused her political critics, particularly in the “right-wing media,” of having “weaponized” the incident in an attempt to “discredit and suppress the work of everyone committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
“KOJO Institute welcomes Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s review of this matter and will cooperate fully with Ministry officials. We believe the Ministry of Education is best positioned to investigate this matter to get to the bottom of what transpired at the Toronto District School Board after our workshop concluded over two years ago,” KOJO Institute founder and CEO Kike Ojo-Thompson said in a statement last Thursday.
“This incident is being weaponized to discredit and suppress the work of everyone committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. While the coverage by right-wing media of this controversy is disappointing and led to our organization and team members receiving threats and vitriol online, we will not be deterred from our work in building a better society for everyone,” Ojo-Thompson added.
While the allegations against Ojo-Thompson have yet to be proven in court, some of her past comments have since resurfaced, causing people to question her organization’s ideas and practices.
During a 2020 interview with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Ojo-Thompson, a former teacher herself, said that “navigating the whiteness of the education system is a daily hardship” and that the school system is “steeped in whiteness.”