The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) has asked that teachers no longer assign Agatha Christie’s mystery novel And Then There Were None to students due to anti-Semitic references. This is in response to a memo from the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) professional advisory on Anti-Black Racism which cited the recently amended 1996 Ontario College of Teachers Act (OCTA).
The act stipulates that “making remarks or engaging in behaviours that expose any person or class of persons to hatred on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination under Part 1 of the Human Rights Code’ is an act of professional misconduct.”
“The text was first published around 1939 and is no longer relevant or engaging to students,” said a UCDSB spokesperson. “The Upper Canada District School Board regularly reviews its curriculum offerings and course materials to ensure we are offering fresh, engaging, timely and relatable materials to students.”
The memo doesn’t mention what references prompted the decision, but several antisemitic comments are made against the character of Mr. Morris. The book has also been criticized for its former titles, several of which carry racist connotations. The scrutiny doesn’t reflect on Christie’s career however, as she is known around the world as one of the best-selling novelists of all time. In fact, And Then There Were None is the best-selling crime novel of all time.
The UCDSB said that removing this novel from curriculums is a step to protect students from discrimination. Principals are encouraged to discuss texts with staff and students to ensure they are “appropriate and culturally responsive,” and that a process to decide is in the works.