Filmed fight between Cowichan Secondary students raises racism concerns

Mother of First Nations student fears for his safety

Filmed fight between Cowichan Secondary students raises racism concerns

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

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

Just Posted

Nanaimo Airport. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Airport coping with low passenger counts, uncertain recovery

Airport CEO Dave Devana says it will take years to return to pre-pandemic passenger levels

Sophia Seward-Good and Aunalee Boyd-Good of Nanaimo’s Ay Lelum – The Good House of Design are showcasing their latest collection Yuxwule’ Sul’sul’tun – Eagle Spindle Whorl at Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto. (Photo courtesy Helena Lines)
Nanaimo’s Ay Lelum makes Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto debut

Clothing design company showing new collection, Yuxwule’ Sul’sul’tun – Eagle Spindle Whorl

Police in Nanaimo hope the public can help find Shawn Miller. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP ask for help finding man missing since last week

Shawn Miller, 52, hasn’t been seen since Friday following days of erratic behaviour, say police

Beef to Halloween, a celebration of death, weapons, blood and murder. Halloween is a mockery of death and our beloved deceased. Why do we celebrate it?
Beefs & Bouquets, Nov. 25

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

The City of Nanaimo is working on the 2021-25 financial plan, with a series of special finance and audit meetings this week and next week. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo begins budgeting with 3.3% tax increase as a starting point

Special finance and audit meeting being held today, Nov. 25

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunters blame shooting on illegal poachers

A Nanaimo driver was sentenced Monday for fatally striking a high school student with his vehicle in 2019. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo driver sentenced after motor vehicle incident that killed teen last year

Brandon Geoffrey Murdoch fined and prohibited from driving for two years

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Most Read