B.C. woman files human rights complaint over students being tied together for the day | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. woman files human rights complaint over students being tied together for the day

August 14, 2018 - 6:30 PM

A B.C. woman has filed a human rights complaint after two students were tied together at their school for the day to teach them a lesson about getting along.

The incident dates back to May 2015 when a pair of Grade two boys were tied together at the ankle to learn how to communicate and work together, according to a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision dated Aug. 8. The decision does not disclose the school or community where this took place, however an article in the North Shore News reports the location as the Squamish Nation. 

A few weeks after it happened, the First Nations community learned about the incident and one of the boy’s Great Aunts objected to the practice on the basis that it evoked traumatic memories of behaviour modification that occurred during residential schools, the tribunal says.

The Great Aunt complained to a number of places, including the Teacher Regulation Branch, which ultimately signed a consent resolution agreement with the principal. In it, the principal admitted to what happened and acknowledged it “evoked recollections of experiences of community members in the Indian Residential School system” and “was not appropriately sensitive.” The teacher was reprimanded and ordered to take a course on creating positive learning environments. 

Last year, the Great Aunt filed a petition for a judicial review on the basis that the commissioner for the regulation branch failed to involve her and others in the investigation. She also said it was unfair to not hear from survivors of Indian Residential Schools as part of the process. The petition was heard on May 9 to 11 and a decision is pending.

On Feb. 8, 2018, the Great Aunt also filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal alleging discrimination against the student on the basis of his race and disabilities.

“She says that the commissioner’s decision is premised on stereotypes about the boys being “aggressive Native males” rather than children “acting in a typical manner”. She says that the commissioner failed to consider Indigenous views and knowledge in addressing her complaint, and failed to account for Student A’s physical and mental disabilities in reaching his decision,” the tribunal decision states.

The Great Aunt is seeking an order for the teacher regulation branch to “ameliorate the effects of its discriminatory practices” and develop “core curriculum to ensure cultural competency and safety in working with Indigenous people, particularly as intergenerational survivors of residential school. She also seeks compensation for injury to dignity, feelings and self respect.

The teacher regulation branch responded to the complaint by filing for a deferral until the judicial review is complete. The branch says if the court decides to quash the commissioner’s decision, then it becomes a legal nullity and the basis for the Great Aunt’s human rights complaint will no longer exist. On the other hand, if it finds the commissioner did not owe the Great Aunt a duty of procedural fairness, the finding would be dispositive of the complaint.

The tribunal was persuaded to defer its proceedings on the complaint until one week after the court releases its decision on the judicial review. The Teacher Regulation Branch must file a response to the Great Aunt’s complaint 21 days after the deferral expires.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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