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Vernon ParentsVoice candidates part of campaign to unseat MLA

From left, Jewlie Milligan and Sylvia Herchen are running for a seat on the Vernon school board.
Image Credit: ParentsVoiceB.C.

The three ParentsVoice B.C. candidates vying for seats as Vernon school district trustees were also helping the failed attempt to recall the vote and unseat Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu.

ParentsVoice B.C. candidates Sylvia Herchen, Jewlie Milligan and Nellie Villegas, all appear on a list of officially approved canvassers in the recall petition issued by Elections B.C.

The unsuccessful recall attempt was launched by Vernon resident Genevieve Ring.

READ MORE: Anti-masker's campaign to recall Vernon-Monashee MLA fails

Ring has spouted conspiracy theories and previously told iNFOnews.ca that an anti-Catholic sentiment was the "basis" of the NDP. Ring also said NDP leader Tommy Douglas once wrote a paper about "exterminating Catholics."

She also spread false information that masks have been "proven harmful for the physiological, psychological, and social development of children" and told iNFOnews.ca it was "child abuse" to put a mask on a child.

The ParentsVoice B.C. candidates have been far cagier at sharing their opinion, and none of the candidates bothered to turn up to an all-candidates debate.

READ MORE: ParentsVoice candidates a no-show at Vernon school district debate

Herchen previously told iNFOnews.ca she didn't show up so she wouldn't be the "target of leading questions."

Herchen is well known in Vernon as a leading voice in the Vernon anti-vax and anti-mandate group who once called the government's health policies "tyranny."

While the group touts transparency, in a previous interview, Herchen simply said "no comment" and "we are not discussing that," to numerous questions.

Villegas refused to answer a question on SOGI 123, and Milligan refused an interview.

The move not to attend the all-candidates debate came under criticism from the non-partisan Vernon District Parent Advisory Council.

"ParentsVoice B.C. does not represent the diverse parents in our school district, nor do they have any affiliation with the Vernon/SD22 District Parent Advisory Council," Vernon District Parent Advisory Council said in a statement.

"In ParentsVoice B.C.’s own words, they 'support electing School Trustees who will listen to parental concerns as well as concerns from the wider community as a whole,' yet their endorsed candidates in Vernon have made no effort to engage with Vernon/SD22 District Parent Advisory Council, who are the actual legislated parent voice in the district." 

READ MORE: Mysterious slate of right-wing school board candidates on Vernon, Kelowna ballots

Ring had until Oct. 11 to come up with more than 20,000 signatures to unseat Sandhu, but fell short. She refused to say how many signatures she did get.

Altogether 28 people volunteered as official canvassers in the campaign to recall the provincial Vernon-Monashee seat.

The list includes Vernon Jubilee Hospital radiologist Dr. Graeme Middelkamp.

Another name on the list is Brian Unrau. According to what appears to be a template on the ParentsVoice B.C. website, Unrau was planning on running as a ParentsVoice B.C. candidate.

The template says "talk about any connections to the school system" and "include pictures that show you as likeable."

While ParentsVoice B.C. says it's not a Christian organization, Unrau has supported bringing religion into schools and wrote a letter to the Vernon Morning Star titled, Bring God back into the classroom.

Several of the canvassers have spread conspiracy theories online, as well as transphobia.

Recall campaign canvasser Blair Romano has shared conspiracy theories online as well as transphobic posts.

Kierstin Mujcin also volunteered to canvass to recall the election. In July, she shared a post suggesting that the 215 children that were buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School isn't true.

Another name on the list is Vernon resident Andy Raeber who posted to social media that Putin's invasion of Ukraine was to take out the "Cabal’s" infrastructure in Ukraine. Other posts say the "deep state" is laundering money in Ukraine and running child trafficking rings and making bioweapons.

To see the full list go here.

READ MORE: Why the sexual orientation policy in Kelowna schools is not 'propaganda'


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer 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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