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

Just Posted

VIDEO: First ever art battle in Duncan attracts enthusiastic Cowichan audience

Art lovers, painters, and the curious delight in watching painters produce work in 20 minutes

Drivesmart column: Where are the corners of your vehicle

We were expected to drive as fast as we were able to in addition to leaving all the cones alone.

Cowichan Coffee Time: Lots of winners honoured, and volunteers step up

• Members of 4-H have been busy lately, with numerous competitions. Cowichan… Continue reading

Public meeting being held on future of old Crofton Elementary School site

Cowichan Valley School District will hear proposals at information session May 30

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

RCMP arrest violent offender on Vancouver Island

Police struggle with suspect and take him down with a taser

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Most Read