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.

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 backup. 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

Nanaimo digs out from snowfall

RDN Transit reports certain bus routes cancelled, delays on other routes

Crash on Cedar Road detours traffic

Ford Taurus and GMC Sierra involved in collision in front of Cedar General Store

UPDATED: RDN won’t build new facility for Nanaimo Recycling Exchange

Regional District of Nanaimo announces preliminary support for $300,000 annual funding for NRE

Construction to begin next week on Northfield intersection

Project to be completed by end of year

Reconciliation advisory committee recommended in school district

Nanaimo school board considers striking a new committee to further goal of reconciliation

PHOTO GALLERY: Home sweet home expo in Nanaimo

Nanaimo Spring 2018 Home Expo takes place at Beban Park this weekend.

Nanaimo sport awards honour outstanding achievement

Nanaimo Sport Achievement Award winners were announced Friday at gala event at Coast Bastion Hotel

Sidewalks recommended along Dufferin Crescent

City of Nanaimo’s finance and audit committee recommends $300,000 sidewalk construction project

Vancouver Island’s Teal Harle finishes fifth in Olympic Men’s Slopestyle skiing

‘I’ve definitely surpassed every expectation I had for the Games’ – Harle

Body of missing skier found

Man’s truck found in Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s parking lot covered in ‘several days’ snow’

B.C. VIEWS: Subsidy supercluster settles in B.C.

Ottawa, Victoria add to their overlapping ‘innovation’ budgets

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Canada’s first ever men’s ski slopestyle medal

Men’s hockey team beats South Korea and women’s curling reverses losing streak

Canada’s Beaulieu-Marchand wins bronze in Olympic slopestyle

The skier from Quebec City scored 92.40 on his second run

Most Read