Screenshot from video.

Screenshot from video.

2 students arrested in assault of transgender girl at Lower Mainland school

Mother says daughter was targeted because of how she identifies

Two Mission students have been arrested following an alleged assault on a transgender girl at École Heritage Park Middle School on Monday, Jan. 11.

Charges have been sent to Crown Counsel for the two Grade 8 girls, who were arrested and released this morning, according to Cpl. Jason Raaflaub of the Mission RCMP. One girl has had one assault charge recommended, while one count of assault and one count of uttering threats has been recommended for the other.

The girl’s mother – who the Record is keeping anonymous to protect the family from any harassment – received a text message from her daughter shortly after the attack.

“She was just in tears,” the mother said. “She said, ‘I need you, I was beaten up.’”

After she was picked up from the school, they had to relive the event when they looked online. Students had filmed the attack and posted the video to social media.

Watching the two students punching and kicking her daughter on the ground while other students laugh and jeer in the background was “heartbreaking,” the mother said.

“Kick her in the head!” one onlooker yells in the video. Another laughs and said he’ll cut off her head for $5. Only one student can be heard in defense of the victim in the background.

The girl identifies as transgender, and the mother believes this is the reason for the attack. The family went to the Mission RCMP detachment the following Tuesday to report the assault.

The mother said the bullying has been happening since the beginning of the school year, and is being committing by one group of approximately four students from the same social circle. She said one of the girls has a long history of abusing her daughter and had recently transferred to the school.

She said they frequently call her daughter homophobic slurs.

“We get phone calls and texts from her asking to come home from school because she was being picked on,” the mother said. “It’s not the kind of thing you expect you kid to have to go through.”

The family had complained to the school district prior to the assault, and were assured that everything was being done in order to prevent further bullying, according to the mother.

She said certain students have been moved away from her daughter in the classroom, and one student had already been previously suspended for the bullying.

The investigation is “far from done,” said Raaflaub, as officers are still interviewing witnesses, adding the two girls will have their first court appearance in late March.

He said investigators are in contact with Superintendent Angus Wilson and the school principal, and they could potentially be looking at the incident as a hate crime.

“There is some indication that may be a contributing factor,” Raaflaub said, who said minors can be charged the same way as adults under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, but are reviewed different parameters.

“If that angle was a motivating factor … we’re definitely going to be forwarding that to Crown Counsel.”

Wilson, for his part, did say it appeared to be a hate crime.

“It was a totally heinous attack, and profound consequences are happening to these perpetrators,” he said. “Extreme violence, especially ganged-up violence and hate crime could quite potentially lead to an expulsion from the school.”

The school district is in the process of reviewing their procedures, staffing, supervisors, along with events and instructions around anti-bullying, cyber-bullying, and mental-health supports, according to Wilson.

He said he wanted to clarify his comments made to another media outlet as to how the incident relates to COVID-19. Principals have noticed an upswing in violence and bullying outside of the classroom since the pandemic began, Wilson said.

“[I did not mean] that it was the cause of this fight, it absolutely was not,” he said.

He said there may be consequences for students who filmed the attack and did nothing, although he did add there were students not seen in the video who did try to intervene.

Safer School Together and the Ministry of Education are working to get the video taken off the web, according to Wilson.

Mission

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

Just Posted

Cowichan Bay tennis player Grace Haugen takes part in an exhibition at the South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Club in 2019, which also included Canadian legends Frank Dancevic and Daniel Nestor. Haugen has committed to further her career at the University of Montana starting next fall. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Bay tennis player prepares for next step in her journey

Grace Haugen commits to University of Montana

Police and fire crews at work at a fire scene at Mount Prevost School (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Classes cancelled for Mount Prevost students today

Second school fire in five days for North Cowichan schools

New well in Youbou expected to meet community;s drinking water needs for years. (File photo)
New well provides fresh water in Youbou

Well expected to meet community’s needs for years

Smaller egg farmers find themselves in a David and Goliath situation when it comes to major producers and chain-grocery store shelf space. (Citizen file)
Name on the egg carton not what it seems, cautions Cowichan producer

“Island” eggs may come from Manitoba, Woike says

The Kerry Park Islanders and Peninsula Panthers battle during a Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League game in November 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League hasn’t given up on season

Games can’t resume until at least February, but league brass still hopeful

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Nanaimo RCMP seek public assistance after numerous tire slashings between Jan. 12-14. (News Bulletin file)
Police seek public’s help after ‘tire slashing spree’ in central Nanaimo

Ten reports of slashed tires in the last three days, say Nanaimo RCMP

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

Most Read