7-year-old FN given "haircut" by teacher's aide - authorities say "no big deal"

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Unionist
7-year-old FN given "haircut" by teacher's aide - authorities say "no big deal"

Have you seen the film footage of residential schools giving Aboriginal children haircuts? Apparently some of the traditions are alive and well. What is truly disturbing is the police, the Crown, and the school authorities not seeing that it's a big deal. Their predecessors I'm sure felt the same way.

[url=http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/05/21/thunder-bay-hair.html][=r... Bay mom wants answers after teacher's aide chops off son's hair[/color][/url]

Quote:

A Thunder Bay woman is demanding an explanation after a teacher's aide at her son's school cut his long hair — an action her lawyer says is clearly assault while the Crown insists there are no grounds for charges. [...]

The seven-year-old boy had chin-length hair before the incident last month. His mother said staff at McKellar Park Central Public School were aware her son was letting his hair grow so that he could take part in traditional First Nations dancing.

The mother told CBC News she was stunned when her son told her it was a teacher's assistant who lopped off 10 centimetres of his hair.

"I said, 'Why did she do this? Did she say anything?'" said the mother. "And he said, 'No, and after she cut my hair, she took me by the shoulders and forced me to stand in front of the mirror. She made me stand there and said look at you now.'"

Rexdale_Punjabi Rexdale_Punjabi's picture

cant incite violence all im gonna say

G. Muffin

Deeply disturbing.  I hope that mother sues the school district to the moon.

Pride for Red D...

oh my gosh. racist beaty standards.

ennir

That is outrageous, that is abuse.  I hope this issue doesn't go away, charges should be laid, that they are not being laid only proves how deeply racist our society is. 

Snert Snert's picture

Just so I'm clear:  it's perfectly legal in Canada to cut someone else's hair, whether they want it or not?  There are, as the article suggest, "no grounds" for legal action??

I strongly suggest a few of this boy's relatives hold that teaching assistant down and shave her bald.  At that point I'm very confident we'll find out if there really aren't grounds for action.

ennir

I think the message has been, is and always will be, "assimilate or die" regardless of what is said.

The tragedy of that is that they, the Cree, the Ojibiway, the Sioux and Dene and the many other first peoples of this land have something to teach us and as long as our arrogance insists that our way of life is the only way of life we will never learn what that is. 

ennir

Rereading what I wrote I think I should add that our tragedy is competely optional, any of us are free to learn, the tragedy for the First Nations People is continually renewed and is not optional for them.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Imagine for a moment that this had happened to a white kid in a Toronto public school; to an aspiring little ballerina, perhaps.

Wouldn't charges of assault be laid immediately? As well as the dismissal or suspension of the assailant, with an apology from the highest levels of the board?

Michelle

Snert wrote:

Just so I'm clear:  it's perfectly legal in Canada to cut someone else's hair, whether they want it or not?  There are, as the article suggest, "no grounds" for legal action??

I strongly suggest a few of this boy's relatives hold that teaching assistant down and shave her bald.  At that point I'm very confident we'll find out if there really aren't grounds for action.

No fucking kidding!

ennir

I made the calls for the links you gave remind, thank you.  I was given this number: 416-326-2210, this is the Crown Attorney dealing with this issue.

remind remind's picture

This completely blew my partners mind when he heard it on the news last night, and he is beyond furious, I do not know if he has ever been so angry. Anyhow my anger over this pales in compare, and I will be doing so some contacting of people today.

The Crown says it is not in the public's interest to pursue charges, Which translates into, "a little First Nations boy is not worth it", then I suggest we make sure they know the public is interested in justice being served for this little boy! Flood the Crown Office will calls!

Lakehead School District website says they are involved in Aboriginal education, seems as if they are the ones needing the education!!!!

http://www.lakeheadschools.ca/

Contact for the Lake Head School Board offices is:

The Jim McCuaig Education Centre
2135 Sills Street
Thunder Bay, Ontario
P7E 5T2

The board office main telephone number is (807) 625-5100.

Thunder Bay Crown Attorney's Office contact info is

Crown Attorney's Office

Person handling this case number is:

416-326-2210



Phone this number below to complain about the person's handling of this case:


1805 E. Arthur Street Thunder Bay, Ontario P7E 2R6


Phone: 807 625-1620.
Fax: 807 625-1618.
Director Chris Hacio Erickson

 

Michelle

I just called.  They're redirecting all calls to Brendan Crawley, who is in communications for the Ministry of the Attorney General.  His phone number is 416-326-2210.  Save yourself a step and flood HIM with calls. 

I just got his voicemail so probably he's not even picking up, but we can at least flood his voicemail!

I told him that this is a racist decision on the part of the Attorney General's office, that cutting people's hair against their will is most certainly assault, and if the teacher's aide had done this to a little white girl, they'd be all over it.  I finished by telling him to tell the crown attorney to do his or her job and charge this aide.

Michelle

ennir, they told me that Brendan Crawley (the phone number they gave us) is someone in communications with the Ministry of the Attorney General, not the crown attorney handling this case.

remind remind's picture

Okay thanks ennir,  saved me some coin in long distance calls. Will change the original post too.

ETA: No actually it won't, as I am going to phone the Crown head office to complain about how the person in charge has handled this case!

Refuge Refuge's picture

I also phoned the school board and I was switched over to Charlie Bishop who is apparently handling this.

remind remind's picture

Which is why we should be flooding the Crown Attorney's office too, to complain about their handling of it, they are apparently just trying to shuffle the blame.

ennir

Michelle wrote:

ennir, they told me that Brendan Crawley (the phone number they gave us) is someone in communications with the Ministry of the Attorney General, not the crown attorney handling this case.

Thanks for clarifying that Michelle, I say call all the numbers, let them all know how offensive this is.

Refuge Refuge's picture

I phoned back a second time to the board and was given Bruce Nugent (807) 625-5214.  He says that an investigation is still ongoing and it may result in suspension or termination and that this is a conern to the board.  I urge people to phone and express their concern that this even happened and their expectation that the board will be following through with an appropritate result for this teachers assistant.

Bruce Nugent (807) 625-5214 cell (807) 628-7459

Charter Rights

The unfortunate side to this event is that the kind of thinking that created residential schools, the 60's scoop and now poverty based removal of children from their homes and communities, is still alive and well in the thinking of a majority of Canadians today. While this is truly a remarkable case, I do know that there are many more incidents that occur daily that raise the hair on the back of my neck. They do not often make it into the media, nor are the majority of Canadians willing to acknowledge their abhorence.

It comes as simple as the rhetoric that occurred with the story on "Status Indians Face Threat of Extintion" here and elsewhere. People cannot see that status cards are very different from licenses and social insurance cards. They can't understand that defining people as a race by not only their colour, but also by a number cataloged for future use, is as dangerous as the Nazis numbering the Jews in prisoner of war camps. The intent of status cards are not to prolong native people being culturallly distinct, but to eradicate them from being identified in society at all. Eventually when the "blood quantum" under which the status cards are provided, runs out there will be no more "Indians" to stand up against government and coporations seeking to expropriate their land, resources and lives.

While everyone should be outraged at the cutting of someone's hair against their will and consent, we should also be outraged that in 200 years of our common living arrangement, native people are still being cheated out of their land, and abused through poverty, unclean water, lower access to education and health systems. These things are happening everyday but quickly slip from our minds in favour of our own petty issues, media sensationalism and apathetic behaviors that distract us constantly.

G. Muffin

Suspension or termination, if it happens, isn't good enough.  That child should be compensated.

Star Spangled C...

This is fucking insane! Who the hell thinks they can jsut cut someone's hair? Wow. I'm just shaking my head on this one.

remind remind's picture

Assault charges are required.

Could you imagine the outcome if a First Nations adult took a little white boy aside and gave him a "warriors" hair cut of the Mowhawks, or Iraquois? They would be in jail faster than their getting home for dinner.

This is a racist action by the teachers assistant, followed up by further racist actions on the part of the Crown.

Makwa Makwa's picture

This is more than merely an assault, this is a hate crime.  Can you imagine if a Christian teacher cut a Sikh child's hair, or an Ortodox Jewish childs side locks?  To many FN people, long hair has significant traditional religious significance. Appalling.  I shall be writing as soon as I can consider how to address it within the realm of reasonable discourse.

Cueball Cueball's picture

How does it fit within the terms of "reasonable discourse"?

Refuge Refuge's picture

G. Pie wrote:

Suspension or termination, if it happens, isn't good enough.  That child should be compensated.

Well they have a lawyer so I am sure they will be going through him (or someone he suggests) for a civil lawsuit as well - and good for them if they do it as they will likely recieve more compensation through the court than they would the school board's offer.

Also reread the article and the TA is already suspended so I am suspecting that the investigation has to do with termination from the board since it is still ongoing.

remind remind's picture

Makwa wrote:
This is more than merely an assault, this is a hate crime.  Can you imagine if a Christian teacher cut a Sikh child's hair, or an Ortodox Jewish childs side locks?  To many FN people, long hair has significant traditional religious significance. Appalling.

Exactly, and excellent analogy.

 

Refuge Refuge's picture

Makwa wrote:

This is more than merely an assault, this is a hate crime.  Can you imagine if a Christian teacher cut a Sikh child's hair, or an Ortodox Jewish childs side locks?  To many FN people, long hair has significant traditional religious significance. Appalling.  I shall be writing as soon as I can consider how to address it within the realm of reasonable discourse.

Agreed. I brought this up when I talked with Bruce Nugent and when I left a message on the Lawyers machine (the comparison to Orthadox Jewish children).  This should definetly be a central point to any communication with the board and the crown.

Caissa

I think this thread dovetails a bit with the one on the purpose of a legal system.

How would one go about rehabilitating the teaching assistant in this case?

remind remind's picture

Sensitivity training, loss of job, and exclusion from ever working with children again.

Unionist

We have no idea what was going through the mind of the teaching assistant, what she knew and didn't know, and I think that's the wrong focus.

Let me reiterate what I said in the opening post:

Quote:
What is truly disturbing is the police, the Crown, and the school authorities not seeing that it's a big deal. Their predecessors I'm sure felt the same way.

It's very convenient for the authorities to focus on individual perpetrators, when they themselves are the problem. In Ireland today, various Church and Irish government bigshots are making tut-tut noises about the rapes and assaults of children, as if these things didn't happen under their watch and as if some isolated low-level individuals were the problem. I don't know exactly how, but they must be brought to account.

Makwa is correct - it's a hate crime. But there's more than one criminal involved here.

 

jkvision jkvision's picture

I am deeply saddened by this event and question the intention of the teacher's aide. Was it a lack of cultural awareness or out and out prejudice? Why would they cut anyone's hair? Any parent would be outraged if someone, anyone took the liberty of cutting their child's hair without permission. What makes this worse is that it is done shortly after the apology for residential school abuse, for actions just like the one just taken. Are teachers aides not given cultural sensitivity training?

I am angry that no criminal charges have been laid. Does this mean if I am sitting in a chair at the bus stop and someone sneaks up from behind, cuts my hair I have no rights? This does not make sense to me.

Most of all I am very sad for this little boy and his mother. What is the message here? What has he internalized? This was an assault on his spiritual beliefs! Harm has been done to him. To turn him to the mirror, to hold his shoulders, to "show him" how it is done is an outrage. Did someone just hit the repeat button? No doubt this sounds familiar to many residential school survivors. This is also harming them. A reminder of how things have not changed. Painful to bear witness to for anyone who gets it, more painful for those who have already lived this through this experience.

Tansi

Maysie Maysie's picture

Racism against Aboriginal people, on the individual level like this disgusting story, or on the systemic and institutional levels, has always been about denying personhood and humanity. The individual behaviours and the lack of seeing this as warranting charges, can be seen in similar ways to the historic and ongoing offenses and atrocities that Aboriginal people have been subject to in Canada. And it continues.

Assault, hate crimes, rights violations. It's the Canadian way.

Tommy_Paine

 

I heard this reported on CBC radio yesterday.  I can't add anything new to the expressed outrage here, other than I'm similarly outraged.

I'm not as interested, however, in writting e-mails or signing petitions.  In this instance in particular, the T.A., the Board, and the Crown are, at absolute best look, displaying a level of  ignorance that is indistinguishable from racism.  On one hand, they do not have a mind capable of change, or on the other,they have a mind unwilling to change.

I understand, and maybe I am wrong, that it's possible to bring a private prosecution.  I think it's high time, particularly for aboriginal people and people of colour, to take such a tack if indeed this avenue is open.

Clearly, one of the ways racism is expressed is through selective prosecution.

It would be interesting to review the prosecutions undertaken by this particular Crown Attourney against aboriginal people.

Tommy_Paine

 

A slice of life from the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal:

T.A. suspended:

http://www.chroniclejournal.com/stories_local.php?id=187330

Editorial-  Thunder Bay in Cultural Crisis:

http://www.chroniclejournal.com/stories.php?id=185773

 

 

 

 

Unionist

Refuge wrote:

G. Pie wrote:

Also reread the article and the TA is already suspended so I am suspecting that the investigation has to do with termination from the board since it is still ongoing.

Just thought I'd mention that the incident apparently happened in April. According to Tommy's linked article, the family was waiting for the authorities to "do the right thing" before taking action of their own.

Skinny Dipper

I would hate to write this but if the TA/Educational Assistant were charged, it would be highly unlikely that she would receive a strong punishment to suit her alleged crime.  She probably has no prior convictions.  She may show remorse.  Either her sentence would be suspended or at most she would do community service.

ennir

I think it needs to be a larger investigation into why she wasn't charged immediately.

donny_brasco

It doesn't matter what the punishment is.  The single that not charging is sending is that it is OK to do what she did.  She is probably some beautiful blond haired young woman ... on the other hand if she were a native person a) would she have known better (ya that is kind of as obvious as not sneezing on people when you have a cold) and b) would she have been charged immediately if the roles were reversed?

Tommy_Paine

I think it needs to be a larger investigation into why she wasn't charged immediately.

 

 

I'm sure there has been.  The Crown has probably had to explain his inactions to people he'd rather not be explaining his inactions to.  And, in spite of all the fundraising he's likely done for this political party or that, he's probably set his appointment to the bench back a year or two.

I'm sure there's a very untransparent disciplinary code at work here, just like in Keswick.  The problem is it's discipline not for being wrong or racist, but for making someone above in his chain of command have to answer questions.

None of which inspires trust in the judicial system, certainly amoung First Nations people, but also amoung non-aboriginals who might spend more than twenty seconds thinking about it.

Which really, really, really, really shows what a lie it is that not charging the T.A. was in the public interest.  It very much is in the public interest.

 

 

 

remind remind's picture

Oh yes, she would have been charged immediately had it been a orthadox Jewish child, or Sikh.

Unionist

Tommy_Paine wrote:

 

Which really, really, really, really shows what a lie it is that not charging the T.A. was in the public interest.  It very much is in the public interest.

Not sure this is the right focus. The school hired this TA. The school is responsible for what happens to every kid in its care. I'm sure, if the public outcry is loud enough, the school board authorities would be quite relieved to have all the attention and blame fall on this "bad apple". But this incident took place over one month ago. What have the authorities done to get at the root of the problem and ensure it never recurs?

 

Unionist

donny_brasco wrote:

 She is probably some beautiful blond haired young woman ...

Try not to be too offensive, even if you do have a lively imagination.

 

donny_brasco

Unionist wrote:

donny_brasco wrote:

 She is probably some beautiful blond haired young woman ...

Try not to be too offensive, even if you do have a lively imagination.

 

 

Ok, but what is offensive about being a beautiful young blond woman?  Just like the jerry Seinfeld episode where he dates

that good looking woman who seems to always get her way...I don't think that is offensive. 

 

Why else is everyone sticking their neck out for this TA? It makes no sense that this chid was victimised and clearly under the

criminal code:

265. (1) A person commits an assault when

(a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;

 

SO my conclusion is that the perpetrator of this crime is a person that the crown would rather not pursue charges against because of her deportment.  Be it looks or personality...

but of course I am not an expert on the subject, it is just my opinion I don't think anyone should be offended by my conjecture. 

Tommy_Paine

Not sure this is the right focus.

Certainly, there are lots of things to look at here.

Geimhreadh

Charter Rights wrote:

The unfortunate side to this event is that the kind of thinking that created residential schools, the 60's scoop and now poverty based removal of children from their homes and communities, is still alive and well in the thinking of a majority of Canadians today.

 

For the people who live in this country who actually know about the atrocities that were done to the First Nations, Inuit and even Métis, I'd doubt it would be a majority of them that would hold such mind sets. I wouldn't be surprised if it were, but I don't think most of them would be in favour of such treatment. One problem is apathy, people are either feel or are made (encouraged) to feel like their opinion doesn't matter and that they can't do much if anything to bring about change when up against big government and business. I don't know if it's changed, but I know throughout school I, and many others, were taught that, more or less, the Europeans and FN/Inuit got along fairly well, lots of trading with few problems.
Anyway, I felt ill reading this, and how it doesn't render charges for the asst. teacher. Besides being native, being a boy could also be another reason for the teacher wanting to cut his hair, after all, the girls in the class weren't targeted. If putting your hand on someone without their consent can result in assault charges, then forcing a hair cut on someone should, without question.
Even though having shaggy/long hair for males is more accepted now, it's far from common. I've had long hair to some degree for the past 12 years, and can remember the negative reactions and comments from within school and outside.

 

Skinny Dipper

I will have to ask one of the lawyers on Progressive Bloggers to find out who the Crown represents: the people of Canada or the state.  They may seem like one in the same, but I think the state represents the monarchy and the governing institutions.  The people are the plebians of society.  I would think that a Crown attorney's job is to represent the state/the crown, not the average Canadian, not Aboriginals, Jews, Sikhs, or Christians.  Should the educational assistant have been charged?  Perhaps.  I think the crown attorneys in Thunder Bay concluded that a conviction would be highly unlikely.  If there were a conviction, the person convicted would receive essentially a "slap on the wrist."

remind remind's picture

No actually the reality would be "the white person convicted would receive a slap on the wrist". If this had been a FN person who did it to a white kid full measure of the assault sentencing would happen.

Tommy_Paine

 

I think the Crowns Attourney in Thunder Bay thought no one was freakin' watching them.

 

insert-label-here

The states minion steps out of line

drop on them like a ton of bricks

that'll address the problem til the next time

as a father i would go ballistic if some educator cut my childs hair.

 

 

Skinny Dipper

Hi Remind,

That is probably true which is unfortunate.

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