British Columbia

Haisla Nation, school district investigate after B.C. teacher allegedly mocks student for traditional regalia

Students of Mount Elizabeth Secondary School in Kitimat, B.C., held a peaceful protest following the incident, in support of a classmate allegedly mocked by his teacher for wearing traditional regalia in class.

Incident sparked peaceful protest, with Indigenous and non-Indigenous students participating

The Haisla First Nation and Coast Mountains School District 82 are investigating an incident in which a teacher at Mount Elizabeth Secondary School in Kitimat, B.C., allegedly mocked a student for wearing traditional regalia. (Smcw/Wikimedia Commons)

An incident involving a teacher allegedly mocking a student for wearing traditional regalia is being investigated by the Haisla First Nation and local school district.

Both the Haisla Nation and Coast Mountains School District 82 confirmed that on Monday, an Indigenous student was allegedly mocked by his teacher for wearing traditional Haisla regalia in class at Mount Elizabeth Secondary School in Kitimat, B.C. 

The incident sparked a peaceful protest — with Indigenous and non-Indigenous students participating — outside the school on Tuesday, according to the school district.

The First Nation and school district say an internal investigation on the incident is ongoing, and will not further comment on the incident or the teacher involved.

Disheartened by racism

School district superintendent Janet Meyer says she spoke to the student on Monday after the incident.

"I sought him out … and had a private conversation with him, and expressed to him that his experience is not consistent with what the school district believes around truth and reconciliation, and he's right to honour his culture and be proud of his culture," Meyer told host Carolina de Ryk on CBC's Daybreak North.

"He shared his feelings about the experience with me, and we were both somewhat disheartened."

Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith says she feels encouraged by the students' protest following the incident. (Haisla.ca)

Crystal Smith, chief councillor of the Haisla Nation, says she's also disheartened by the anti-Indigenous racism that the student faced in school, but at the same time she feels encouraged by the students' protest.

"This generation is making a stance and making it known ... what we still experience as First Nations people within our own territory, and that resilience deserves accolades," Smith said in a separate interview.

"Their strength to stand together and united in that approach is absolutely inspiring for myself personally."

Superintendent Janet Meyer says she is disappointed after learning of allegations that a teacher in Kitimat mocked an Indigenous student who wore regalia for their yearbook photo.

With files from Daybreak North

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