British Columbia

B.C. high school cancels student trip to New York over U.S. political turmoil

Staff were concerned with "the potential" for more protests in the Big Apple.

Travel plans called off after 'careful' deliberation, principal says

People participate in a protest against President Donald Trump's immigration ban in New York City on Jan. 29. (Reuters)

A high school in Richmond, B.C. has cancelled a student trip to New York City, citing concerns with the unpredictable political climate in the U.S.

R.A. McMath Secondary School had planned to send 36 students and several staff chaperones to the Big Apple this spring.

However, after a rise in protests following President Donald Trump's inauguration last month, staff were apprehensive about the "potential" for further demonstrations posing a danger to students.

R.A. McMath Secondary School in Richmond is currently on lockdown while RCMP investigate an unspecified threat. (SD38)

After "careful" deliberation, travel plans were ultimately cancelled this week, principal Neil Kamide said.

"Even under normal conditions, sponsoring student travel is an extremely stressful endeavour for staff — it is a 24/7 role with the staff members tasked with ensuring the safety of all students under their care," he told CBC News.

"As the climate in parts of the U.S. is shifting and events and situations seem to be unfolding quickly, our staff currently feels uncomfortable in both moving forward, as well as waiting to see if the situation changes."

Kamide said the decision to cancel was made swiftly, in part, to ensure that students and their families could still be refunded for travel expenses. He said the school was "on the hook for a little bit of money," but insisted that students wouldn't be asked to pay those fees.

Protests in NYC

On Jan. 21 — the day after Trump's inauguration — more than a million people took part in the Women's March on Washington from across North America.

In New York alone, more than 400,000 people turned out to the demonstration, focused on civil liberties, immigration, reproductive rights and intolerance.

Protesters hold up signs during the Women's March along Madison Avenue in New York City on Jan. 21. (EPA/Jason Szenes via CP)

A week later, more protests broke out after Trump signed an executive order barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

Thousands gathered outside a Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport to argue the ban and show support for Muslim and refugee communities.

(Kamide said some students that had signed up for the trip to New York were of mixed-race, but that wasn't a factor in the decision to cancel.)

People gather for a protest at Terminal 4 of the John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport after people arriving from Muslim countries were held at the border control as a result of the new immigration policies enacted by President Donald Trump. (EPA/Justin Lane via CP)

Both demonstrations — as well as others — were peaceful, but Kamide said he and his colleagues were still hesitant.

"Thus, it is with sadness, we have chosen to cancel," the principal said.

Kamide said it's unlikely the trip will be rescheduled before the end of the school year. However, he said travelling to New York is a tradition at the school and students who missed out this year will be invited back in 2018.

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