Beloved educator Jay Williams dead at 40

Funeral service for beloved educator Jay Williams will be on March 16 in Pickering

By Neil Armstrong

Educator, speaker, and education consultant Jay Williams was committed to equity and believed in the power of representation. He wanted to go wherever he could to spread his message across Canada, the United States, and the world.

That’s what he outlined on the podcast “Black is the New Rich” last year with the host and content creator, Cory Cash. Sadly, Williams, 40, died suddenly in the early hours of February 29 in Toronto.

Jay Williams

In an announcement of the funeral details, his mother, Paulette Senior — who was recently appointed to the Senate of Canada — and the entire family thanked everyone for the messages of “condolences and outpouring of support as we navigate our heartbreak and our way through life without him.”

The viewing and visitation will be on Friday, March 15, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at McEachnie Funeral Home, 28 Old Kingston Road in Ajax, Ontario. The funeral service will be held on Saturday, March 16 at 10:45 a.m. at Apostolic Pentecostal Church, 1920 Notion Road in Pickering, Ontario. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Jay Williams Memorial Fund which was established by his family to honour his legacy: (

“Your gift will continue the work Jay began, reaching students and those who teach and mentor them. Thank you for honouring Jay’s life with your generosity,” said the family.

Paulette Senior with her son Jay Williams

Williams was an educator for 14 years at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and was the Coordinator of Equity as well as holding portfolios in equity, anti-racism, anti-oppression, the Black Student Success and Excellence initiative at the Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement and Model Schools for Inner Cities. 

“Jay was driven by a passion to use education as a platform to make lasting impact. Inspired by his commitment to equity, he helped students achieve success despite daunting circumstances, and an education system and teaching methods that limited their ability to reach their full potential.

“Jay inspired students and colleagues with his energy, authenticity, and belief that as we know better, we must become better. As a consultant, speaker, and author he advocated for policy changes within the education system that were essential for students to realize their goals,” noted his family.

“He is loved. By being his authentic self, he made a difference in the lives of students, families, and staff for generations to come,” said TDSB’s  Karen Murray.

Storyteller and author, Itah Sadu, said Williams holds a special place in her heart.

“I recall how excited he was when he and his mom invited me to tell stories at his school. He was a primary grade student, I was just blossoming in my career, and boy, that day he made me feel like a superstar as he sat straight back, eyes filled with excitement and his face glowing with all the potential in the world.

“In January, I danced with him and several educators at a “wind down Friday” at the Blackhurst Cultural Centre. It was joyous. I will always remember how he wrapped me up as an Auntie in the warmest embrace. Thanks to his mom and family for sharing this brilliant young man and gift with us,” she said.

Williams had a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Education and Promotion from Dalhousie University and a Bachelor of Education from Ontario Tech University.

He is survived by his mother, Paulette Senior — he was her only child — and leaves behind his father Ron Williams and five siblings.