A peaceful protest took place at Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School in Kitimat after a teacher allegedly mocked an Indigenous student for wearing regalia to class.
Kitimat residents along with members of the Haisla Nation, hereditary chiefs, students and teachers from the school came out to show their support for the student.
“Yesterday morning, the student had picture day and he chose to wear his regalia. The teacher went into the classroom and mocked him asking, ‘what’s up with the costume’ in front of the class,” Alex Grant, the student’s stepfather, said.
The following day, Indigenous students came together and stood in solidarity. Grant said, the student and his friend were asked to separate or get out of class by the teacher and then they were kicked out of the class. The rest of the students then walked out in support.
Following the incident, the school board and the school agreed to meet with Grant and his family to discuss what occurred.
“We’re satisfied that they are looking more in-depth into this because in the past when this has happened it was just an apology but this morning we made it known that just an apology would not meet our needs this time,” said Grant.
A peaceful gathering was then planned to take place after school hours that would see students and teachers walking out in protest.
“It’s really empowering and it’s really comforting to know that they do support one another in times like this, it’s really comforting to know that we can come together peacefully,” said Grant about the gathering.
At the event, there was a chance for Grant and others to speak on the matter. There were also songs that had been sung in support.
The incident is currently under investigation by the school board, which is not releasing further details until the investigation is concluded.
School District 82 in a press release said that they valued diversity and expect that students have the ability to express pride for their rich culture in word and action. They also said appropriate steps are being taken to ensure that the Haisla culture is alive and visible.
The School District also says that they both appreciate and encourage the collective voice of students regardless of ancestry.