A Wetaskiwin high school teacher says she is "horrified" by a former student's violent song lyrics that she believes are directed towards her, and fears police aren't taking her complaints seriously enough.
Kate Osterwoldt said she first learned of the rap song Jan. 12, when her students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School told her a song recently posted on YouTube was about her.
Called "Train of Thoughts" by rap artist Kid'Kilo, the song is written from the point of view of a student. Some of the lyrics crudely refer to a pregnant teacher named Kate.
"Kate you (expletive) can't even express or fathom how much I wanted to choke you and now you provoke me to act out," the artist raps. "... slit your wrist, hang yourself in the closet. So if you said you were going to kill yourself, I would happily watch it."
"I just don't understand how anyone can say this is civil, it's not criminal, there's nothing we can do." - Kate Osterwaldt
Osterwaldt said she taught Lucas McKay, the legal name of the musician who wrote the song, shortly before taking maternity leave two years ago.
She said she doesn't believe the use of her first name in the song is coincidental.
"I don't believe that for a second," Osterwaldt said. "Too much of it is coincidental. He's using my name, he's referring to my pregnancy at a time that I taught him and was very pregnant."
Osterwaldt said she went to her principal right away with her concerns, and contacted the Alberta Teachers' Association. An adviser from the ATA told her to contact police. She went to Wetaskiwin RCMP after school Jan. 12 and filed a complaint.
That evening, she said an officer called her and told her there was nothing they could do, because there was no threat in the song.
"I said, 'Well he says he wants to choke me, he says he wants me to kill myself,'" Osterwaldt said she told the police officer. "They went to him, he said it wasn't about me, and that's pretty much the end of it. They suggested I meet with (McKay) so he can explain all that to me.
"The fact that he's talking about drawing pictures of his classmates dying, referring to school shootings … all these things, I just don't understand how anyone can say this is civil, it's not criminal, there's nothing we can do."
'It's a total coincidence'
McKay, who also goes by the first name Kihew and is 18 years old, said the song has nothing to do with his former teacher.
"It's a total coincidence," he said. "Kate is just a name that fit good in the song. Kate is a fictional character I made up that has all the characteristics that your everyday student would not get along with."
McKay said he recently met with an RCMP officer about the song.
"We had a good laugh," he said. "He was like, 'Are you aware you had a teacher that was named Kate?' I was like, 'No man, I totally forgot about that.'
"It's my art. It is what it is. It has nothing to do with anyone. I'm not condoning violence."
McKay, who never graduated, returned to the school earlier this month to re-register for one class. While there, he wrote on a locker with erasable marker to use the scene as a background photo for his song on YouTube.
He has since been banned from the school for the vandalism and no longer considered a student.
No charges laid
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Jack Poitras confirmed to CBC police were investigating the song. But he said no charges had been laid because an offence has not been committed.
"It is a rap song, and there are a lot of those types of songs that are written with rather disturbing lyrics," Poitras said. "The lyrics he uses, some of them are more graphic than others, but there's no outward threat to a specific person."
Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools superintendent Terry Pearson confirmed McKay is not currently a student with the district. He "absolutely" considers the song's lyrics threatening, but said pursuing legal action against the song's author is difficult because he's not a student, Pearson said.
Osterwoldt is working with the district and the high school's administration to determine what action can be taken, Pearson said.
'It's something I would certainly say is on the rise over the last number of years.'
ATA spokesman Brian Andrais said the union has no control over students' actions within the province's schools. But the association receives similar complaints about threatening behaviour on a monthly basis, he said.
"It's not uncommon," he said. "We're seeing an increase of the online aspect of things, whether through YouTube or Facebook. It's something I would certainly say is on the rise over the last number of years. And it's not confined to students."
Osterwoldt said she's never dealt with this type of situation before and she doesn't believe McKay would act out on any of the violent lyrics in his song.
But it's something that concerns her, and she said she struggles to understand how nothing can be done about it.
"I think waiting for something bad to happen is the wrong approach," she said.
"It only takes the wrong person to watch the video and get ideas."