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

North Cowichan councillor’s proposal for regional control of forests gets nod at UBCM

Recommendation from North Cowichan councillor Rob Douglas now goes to province

Drivesmart column: Driving with obstructed vision

Fully 80 per cent of the information that we need to drive safely comes through our eyes.

Marked improvement for women’s rugby squad

Gudmundseth scores four as Cowichan edged by Westshore

Robert Barron column: Cell phone rules in cars are clear as mud

She was not actively using her cell at the time

Andrea Rondeau column: Flood of letters to the editor

Some newspapers struggle to get people to send in letters to the editor.

VIDEO: Langley woman’s security camera records its own theft

Langley family discovers early morning grab was recorded

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Map on Elections Canada website sends Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters to landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

BC Children’s Hospital launches 2 new virtual care sites bringing total to 19 across province

Provincial initiative allows pediatric patients to see health specialists through video

‘Wham-bam out the door’: Surrey man’s front yard left ruined by scamming landscaper

Resident warns neighbours to be careful of door-to-door salesmen

Most Read