Filmed fight between Cowichan Secondary students raises racism concerns

Mother of First Nations student fears for his safety

A mother of a First Nations student at Duncan’s Cowichan Secondary School is concerned about her son’s safety, and other aboriginal kids at the school, after a fight on Dec. 4.

The fight, which took place at lunchtime near the school’s campus on Ypres Street, was filmed with cellphones by a number of people at the scene and is being widely viewed on social media.

The video shows a one-on-one fight between a white youth and a First Nations youth, in which a number of other white youths joined in to kick at the First Nations student once he was knocked to the ground.

FOR RELATED STORY, CLICK HERE

Doris Jack, the mother of the First Nations student, said her son was taken to hospital after the incident with a bruised jaw.

She said the fight was the end result after her son was targeted for weeks by a group of students at the school with taunts and threats to beat him up.

Jack said other First Nations students at the school have also been targeted by the students since September.

“I contacted the school’s principal [Charlie Coleman] and he said he would look into it, and I talked to the police who told me that the school was dealing with it and some of the boys who attacked my son had been suspended,” she said.

“But my understanding is that no one was suspended. This should have been dealt with right away, but nobody seems to want to deal with it. I’m scared for my children in the school system.”

A joint statement from the Cowichan Valley school district and the Cowichan Tribes indicated that the RCMP were at the school on Dec. 5 to ensure the safety and security of students and staff, “and to provide some calmness to the situation”.

It began with a pre-arranged fight between two groups of students, that didn’t actually come to fruition due to Coleman’s and the RCMP’s intervention, said school district spokeswoman Katie McLaughlin.

“It was a very large, very agitated group,” Coleman said in a letter sent home to parents about the incident.

“I called the RCMP to help with crowd control and the police responded quickly and with lots of back up. This (incident) is most unusual for our school.”

Coleman said that several other small fights broke out at the same time in a number of different locations off school grounds, but close to the school. It was one of these fights that was filmed and circulated on social media.

He said several students were questioned by police but, at this point, no charges have been laid.

“I have sent home a number of students who were the most actively involved and the most agitated players in all of this for a few days of ‘cooling off’,” Coleman said.

“I need more evidence before I can determine who should be suspended.”

Another press release from the school on Dec. 5 stated that Coleman has had time to view the videos on a large screen, and is making contact with individual families to let them know how long some of the students’ suspensions will be.

Additional suspensions may also occur, based on video evidence, the statement said.

The joint statement from Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour and school superintendent Rod Allen on the incident said both organizations don’t condone any kind of fighting, bullying or harassment of others; on or off school property.

“Rest assured we are all taking this seriously. The school, with the support of the RCMP, is currently reviewing video and other evidence to determine the facts of what took place.”

The statement said Cowichan Tribes chief and council will be setting up a meeting as soon as possible to review this incident and find ways to further prevent it from happening again.

“There are a lot of rumours online and in the community about the nature of these incidents, and we encourage our communities to stay focused on the facts,” the statement said.

“It’s important to keep in mind that rumours on social media, both during and after events of this nature, do little to assist anyone in their efforts to determine what took place. They can simply hinder any investigation and escalate the anxiety of those involved.”

RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Tammy Douglas said it’s important for young people to understand that some videos they take with their cellphones, including of fights, can be reviewed as potential evidence in a criminal investigation.

“Youth should be mindful that they could become an unwilling participant in a criminal investigation as well as contributing to online bullying,” she said.

“Ultimately, it comes down to making smart choices. At the end of the day you can be held accountable for images, videos and statements shared online. Parents are encouraged to speak to their children about the potential impact and consequences of their actions.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hundreds march against location of safe injection site

A Voice for Our Children opposes centre being near schools, recreation sites

Sarah Simpson Column: Creativity, and smoke, yields two new ‘computers’

My son opted to empty the recycling bin of all its boxes and create stuff.

Arts & Entertainment column: A new book, an art prize, and an AGM

Here are a few of the things happening in Cowichan’s arts and culture scene.

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read