Students should have been shielded from racist graffiti: band council member
The RCMP says derogatory comments were painted onto a bus near the school sometime between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday, March 5, 20178. (Willy F. Johnson)
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Thursday, March 8, 2018 1:05PM AST
Last Updated Thursday, March 8, 2018 1:54PM AST
More should have been done to shield young Indigenous and African Nova Scotian students from seeing racist graffiti that was scrawled on one of their school buses and a sign nearby, a Mi'kmaq band council member said Thursday.
Darlene Prosper said kids arriving at the East Antigonish Education Centre on Tuesday were faced with a hate-filled piece of graffiti targeting Indigenous people that was spray painted across a bus. They also saw a message against black people on a sign near the school in Monastery, N.S.
Prosper said the Strait Regional School Board should have notified the Paqtnkek First Nation about the messages so something could have been done to inform parents or develop a plan to deal with the situation.
"What was the most frustrating was the fact that this graffiti was sprayed on the walls and the bus and the sign the evening before and it was maddening to find out that the kids had to drive into it and see it," she said.
"We should have been notified when they became aware of this, so together we could have worked out a plan as to how we were going to deal with that."
The school has about 100 Mi'kmaq students.
School board spokeswoman Deanna Gillis said they only learned about the extent of the graffiti on Tuesday since it was dark when it was first noticed late Monday. She said they immediately contacted police and also put in supports for students on Tuesday when they understood the nature of the messages.
One of the messages said: "F--k natives."
She said the bus was moved after police informed them they could relocate it and the graffiti was removed. Gillis said they also had to wait for a driver to move the spare bus, since they were all out on their routes Tuesday morning.
The school also had an assembly Thursday with their incident response team to allow students to share their concerns. Gillis said RCMP were at the school Thursday to ensure safety.
Principal Richard Britten said in a message Wednesday that culturally insensitive incidents would not be tolerated.
"Here at The East we celebrate our differences and our cultural diversity," he said in the statement. "Each and every day, we all need to continue to work together ... to keep our school a welcoming, respectful, safe and supportive learning environment."
The school was closed Wednesday after reports of a threat against the school being disseminated on social media. Gillis said it has now been determined there was no threat.
Still, some parents say the incidents have left a lingering unease in the community.
Rose Paul's daughter is in Grade 11 and saw the graffiti when she arrived Tuesday.
"It affected the school community greatly," said the mother of eight children who attended the school over the years. "Hopefully we will learn from this and get stronger from this."
The Mounties issued a statement Tuesday saying vandals spray-painted the graffiti close to the school.