Catholic board apologizes to First Nation students
School staff member's remarks unnerve two 13-year-old boys
Two students from Fort William First Nation are speaking out about remarks made after the fire on the swing bridge.
The comments were not made online but, rather, at their school.
Michael Johnstone and Parker Crews were sitting with friends in the lunch room at Pope John Paul the Second school in Thunder Bay.
They were talking about some beef jerky they'd bought, when a staff member made a comment.
Statement from Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board:
The Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board is reviewing a situation following a remark made by a staff member to a group of three students earlier this week.
"We are looking into the matter very closely," said Joan Powell, Director of Education. Ms. Powell added that the Board "is responding in a manner that keeps the dignity of our students at the forefront."
On Thursday, members of Senior Team met with the families of the students, and the students themselves to express regret over the incident. Further restorative measures, in consultation with the families, are being planned at the school.
"She's like, ‘Oh, did you get that before or after you burned the bridge down?'” Michael said.
At first, the 13-year-old boys didn't know what to make of it.
"We talked to a couple of my friends about it and they said that it was definitely rude and we should go talk to somebody about it."
The boys confided in a school counsellor, who told them she would deal with it.
No 'malicious' intent
Later the staff member came to talk to them.
"She just told us that she was sorry, but she was just joking around, but she wanted to get to know us better,” Michael said.
Parker added, “She said that she wasn't trying to be malicious."
But that's not good enough for their parents.
They say they're alarmed an educator would think it's OK to make that kind of a joke.
"I was really, really upset, angry and hurt that she would say that to my son,” said Shannon Crews, mother of one of the children.
Nevertheless, the parents are proud of their boys for speaking up and say they hope other kids do the same when they hear hurtful comments.
The Catholic District School Board sent officials to Fort William First Nation to apologize to the students and their families.
In a statement given to CBC News, the Board also said it's planning what it calls "further restorative measures" at the school.