Racial bullying at Calgary school grabs attention of education minister's office

A group of parents and community members concerned about racial bullying in schools is encouraged to have garnered the attention of the education minister's office.

Group pushing for more black history education to help combat racial bullying in schools

A group of white kids hurled slurs at some black kids, leading to a fight near Western Canada High School, and charges and school suspensions for the black kids. (CBC)

A group of parents and community members concerned about racial bullying in schools is encouraged to have garnered the attention of the education minister's office.

The president of the African Caribbean Canadian Association says he's going to urge David Eggen to consider further changes to the curriculum at an upcoming meeting.

"Black studies could be taught as part of the curriculum in the schools. It would create a mutual respect for black students and also [teach] where some of these racial slurs originated from, the history behind it, and how damaging it can be," Stephen Allen told CBC News.

A spokesperson from the education department told CBC News it plans to meet with the organization in the near future and that the issue of racial bullying falls within the province's anti-racism initiatives.

"Our government aims to ensure that every single school in our province is safe, welcoming and caring for all students," Lindsay Harvey said in the statement.

"If parents or community groups have concerns, we encourage them to reach out to Minister Eggen's office and we will deal with each request appropriately."

Western Canada High School incident

The source of the concern stems from a violent incident outside Western Canada High School last month.

According to witnesses and one of the students involved, the incident began when some white teenagers used racial slurs against some black teenagers, which led to a fight, charges and school suspensions for the black kids.

The school declined to release information as to whether or not the white students involved were disciplined. 

Before reaching out to the education minister's office, Allen and others met with the Calgary Board of Education and staff at Western Canada High school to address the issue of racial bullying.

Meeting mixed reactions

After a meeting last Friday, Allen said he felt school officials didn't come prepared to provide any solutions.

A member of Black Lives Matter Calgary, who was also in attendance, said she shared Allen's sense of disappointment. 

"What was the point of this? I didn't feel like they took it very seriously … quite frankly, they didn't come prepared to really address anything. I don't think they really understood that people want change," Meagan Bristowe said.

Calvin Davies, CBE Area 7 director, had a different view of the meeting and called it a good first step. 

He says he didn't realize the impact these comments had on the kids.

"It's the kids themselves that are going to lead to the solutions and that is setting up the conditions in the school where the students say 'Hey, we're are going to stand together here and these kinds of comments are not appropriate at our school,'" Davies said

Plans at Western

Allen then met with the principal and other staff members from Western Canada High School on Monday, and says it seemed they came more prepared to talk about solutions.

For example, Allen says staff suggested forming a committee of teachers whom students would feel comfortable coming to if they have been a victim of, or are aware of, any racial bullying incidents among their peers.

"We're hoping that these suggestions are implemented and carried through," he said.

The principal for Western Canada High school was not available for comment about Monday's meeting.

About the Author

Colleen Underwood


Colleen Underwood has been a reporter/editor with CBC news for more than 10 years filing stories from across southern Alberta for radio, television and online. Follow her on Twitter @cbccolleen.