Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld brought residential schools into the SOGI 123 debate that’s been brewing in this district since October, when he began criticizing the teacher resource.

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld brought residential schools into the SOGI 123 debate that’s been brewing in this district since October, when he began criticizing the teacher resource.

School trustee under fire again – this time for offensive slur at Chilliwack journalists

Chilliwack Teachers Association, Education Minister condemn Barry Neufeld’s comments targeting the Chilliwack Progress

A controversial Chilliwack school trustee is once again under fire – garnering condemnation by provincial politicians and the public – after using an ableist slur aimed at three Black Press Media employees.

The offensive word was used in a public Facebook post Thursday (Nov. 19) targeting a Chilliwack Progress reporter, the editor and the publisher.

Neufeld’s post was soon changed to no longer include the R-word before being deleted – but not before being screen-grabbed by many, including advocates for disabled people.

(Barry Neufeld/Facebook)

(Barry Neufeld/Facebook)

The social media post comes just a few days after Neufeld was given a community hero award by Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl for “going above and beyond to make our community a better place during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Since the comment was posted, an online petition started by a Chilliwack resident has quickly picked up steam. As of Friday at 2 p.m., 1,619 people had signed the petition, titled “REMOVE BARRY NEUFELD.”

This isn’t the first time Neufeld has attracted criticism.

Neufeld has long stood against the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity program in B.C. schools, with calls for his resignation after making anti-trans comments in 2018. That same year, the BC Teachers’ Federation filed a human rights complaint against him, alleging his comments were creating an unsafe work environment.

This year, the school board censured Neufeld after he made social media posts questioning the gender identity of Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top doctor.

In a series of tweets on Friday, Nov. 20, B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming called for Neufeld to resign from his position as school trustee.

“In addition to targeting the LGBTQ community, and peddling conspiracy theories about Dr. Tam and COVID-19, he is now targeting ableist slurs at individuals,” Fleming said.

“It’s time for him to step down.”

In a separate statement, the Chilliwack Teachers Association voiced their support for the local newspaper while condemning Neufeld’s actions.

“They are dedicated and professional journalists who are not afraid to stand up for decency and fairness and to speak out against bigotry and narrow-mindedness,” the statement reads.

“The Chilliwack Progress is the oldest and one of the most successful community papers in B.C., and part of that success comes from the courage not to shy away from controversy.”

The association added that hurtful slurs have no place in schools.

In a statement on behalf of Black Press Media, editorial director Andrew Holota said, “We’re aware of the social media posts that followed a story by reporter Jessica Peters in the Nov. 5 Chilliwack Progress in regard to the Chilliwack school board.

“The public has a right to be informed about the decisions and actions of elected government representatives. We stand behind the Nov. 5 story, which accurately portrays the ongoing divisiveness within the Chilliwack school board, and the conduct and behaviour which has manifested between trustees. Mr. Neufeld’s factually inaccurate Nov. 19 Facebook post is a reflection of that discord, and it is now the focus of appropriate public attention and response. The Progress will continue to provide factual and impartial editorial coverage of this and other important community issues.”

Black Press Media has reached out to Neufeld for comment.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

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

Just Posted

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross at his swearing in on Thursday (Nov. 26), with his wife, Tracey, left, mother, Frieda, and grandson, Parker. (Ellis Ross photo)
Ellis Ross sworn in as Skeena MLA

Ceremonies happening virtually rather than all in-person in Victoria

CityWest internet and other services are down in Kitimat as of Wednesday (Nov. 25) evening. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATE: Services down for CityWest users in Kitimat

Services were put out due to a landslide cutting a fibre line

The Terrace River Kings lost 3-9 to the Quesnel Kangaroos on Mar. 2, 2019 in the final CIHL playoffs. (Lindsay Chung Photo)
Central Interior Hockey League cancels 2020/21 season

League open to playing exhibition games if possible

The team at Burns Lake Elizabeth Fry Society, who work to support those affected by domestic abuse and violence. (Submitted/Lakes District News)
Rio Tinto donates $25,000 to each Kitimat’s Tamitik Status of Women, Burns Lake Elizabeth Fry Society

Part of larger support to those helping women and children experiencing family and domestic violence

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

More than 60 cm of snow has fallen at Ulkatcho First Nation near Anahim Lake in the Chilcotin since a snowfall warning went into effect Thursday, Nov. 26. (Graham West photo)
VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

Graham West of Ulkatcho First Nation captures the scene on video

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

Most Read