Alberta school division sorry after employee dressed as Spice Girl with blackface

A staff member at a Christian school wore blackface while dressed as a Spice Girl

An Alberta school division has apologized after a staff member at a Christian school wore blackface while dressed up as a member of the British band Spice Girls.

Elk Island Public Schools said in a statement Monday that it is taking immediate action with the employee to address her conduct.

“We do not condone behaviour that would be offensive or hurtful to any student, employee or member of our school community,” said the division.

It added that an apology was also going home to parents.

“In the days ahead, EIPS will seek out resources in order to further educate employees, both at this school and throughout the division, about the need to be respectful of all races and cultures.

“It is our intention to ensure that an incident of this kind is not repeated.”

Edmonton activist Bashir Mohamed said a friend who is a teacher sent him a link to the photo from a Facebook group. He then put the picture out on Twitter with several comments and asked how a black student at the school might feel about it.

Related: Viral video of B.C. woman’s rant makes it hard to deny racism, advocate says

The photo shows a woman wearing dark face makeup while dressed up as Mel B, otherwise known as “Scary Spice” with the 1990s all-girl band.

She is standing with other adults posing as celebrity judges in a talent event at Strathcona Christian Academy in Sherwood Park, just east of Edmonton.

“Look who’s here for SCA’s Got Talent! Meet the judges: Simon Cowell, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel!! All the best to our competitors!” said a caption of the photo from SCA Elementary.

Mohamed said he didn’t put out the photo to get the employee fired. He wanted it to act as a teaching moment.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity for there to be education where they can understand why this is an issue and learn from it,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, this person is an educator and they are responsible for students.”

He added that most people are likely to understand that blackface is wrong, but they don’t understand why, or realize that it has roots in Canadian history as well as in the United States.

Education Minister David Eggen said even though the matter is being dealt with, he finds it disturbing.

“It’s inappropriate behaviour that doesn’t belong in schools,” Eggen said.

“It sets a bad example.”

Marisa Peters, an Edmonton blogger who uses the Twitter handle Stream and Stone, said she is a former student of Strathcona Christian Academy’s secondary school.

“In musical theater we were asked to fake tan and wore dark makeup to dress as Puerto Ricans for ‘West Side Story,’” said her tweet. “Blackface has a history at this school.”

Laura McNabb, a spokeswoman for the school division, said officials would not be commenting further.

Related: Trudeau says anti-black racism exists in Canada

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: SAR reinforcements from up Island arrive Sunday to help search for Ben Kilmer

Family, RCMP ‘extremely happy’ with the search effort so far, search manager tells volunteers

VIDEO: Get your group together and plan an event for Culture Days

Culture Days events can include almost anything, but the more interactive the better for all

Robert Barron column: Nicole Lynch deserves a medal

It takes a great deal of courage to walk into a potentially dangerous situation

Drivesmart column: It’s motorcycle season

My experience investigating collisions reinforced that a rider must drive defensively at all times

David Suzuki column: Degree sparks necessary debate

Too often, though, the discussion has strayed from topics that need attention into personal attacks.

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Coming up in Cowichan: Spring fair; Christian Science lecture; market

Get ready for some family fun with the Drinkwater Elementary School PAC annual spring fair

Cowichan Coffee Time: New principal, and fundraising galore

• School District 79 introduced Nicole Miller, who has been appointed principal… Continue reading

Central Vancouver Island man dies in single-vehicle collision

Pickup truck with three occupants went off the road near Port Alberni

UPDATED: Grand Forks looks towards recovery as evacuation orders begin to lift

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

Most Read