Winnipeg school working with B'nai Brith after student targeted with anti-Semitic messages on social media

A Winnipeg high school says it's taking action to address racist and hateful messages that were shared among multiple students on social media over the summer.

Shaftesbury High School has invited a holocaust survivor to educate students next week

The Pembina Trails School Division says it has called B'nai Brith Canada to work with students at Shaftesbury High School after hateful messages were sent to a student and shared on Snapchat over the summer. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

A Winnipeg high school says it's taking action to address racist and hateful messages that were shared among multiple students on social media over the summer.

The Pembina Trails School Division confirms a male student from Shaftesbury High School was bullied and targeted with anti-Semitic images on Snapchat by other students.

Superintendent Ted Fransen said he learned about the incident last Friday night and Winnipeg police were immediately called to investigate the matter.

Ted Fransen, Superintendent for Pembina Trails School Division said B'nai Brith has been called to help educate students at Shaftesbury High School about racism after a student was targeted with anti-Semitic messages on Snapchat over the summer. (CBC)
"I was horrified and quite disappointed," said Fransen. "I'm not on Snapchat but I'm aware there was some anti-Semitic imagery involved in the social media."

Winnipeg police said they were called by a concerned parent about the online messages on Sept. 1 but no charges will be laid.

"Criminal charges are not being pursued with all involved parties happy with [the] action taken by police and school," said a Winnipeg police spokesperson.

Fransen said the boy was targeted by about half a dozen students and that the school and police have since spoken to all the students involved.

"As you know, this is a huge issue not only in Shaftesbury School but across Canada and the United States, and we take it very seriously," he said.

"Any time a child is singled out and there's a hate message, it's a concern."

Jewish community called to work with students

Fransen said B'nai Brith Canada was called to work with Shaftesbury High School on educating students about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.

A Holocaust survivor has been invited to speak with students at Shaftesbury High School next week.

"We did that by linking the school with a Holocaust survivor who will come to speak about his experience," said Ran Ukashi, Manitoba regional director with B'nai Brith Canada.

Winnipeg police were called to investigate an incident involving anti-Semitic images being shared by Shaftesbury High School students on Snapchat over the summer. Police said no charges have been laid.
"So he'll be providing a testimonial about what he experienced during the Holocaust and then have a Q&A with students."

Ukashi said he received a call from the school division earlier this week and said very few details were shared about the hateful images sent to the boy.

"I believe a swastika was involved in one of the images, but I'm not sure if that was the only image that was shared," said Ukashi. 

The incident comes as advocates call for more anti-racist education in Manitoba schools.

The Manitoba Islamic Social Services Association believes there's a spike in hate crimes across Canada, including in Winnipeg, in light of the white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville, Va., over the summer.

Fransen says the Pembina Trails School Division has already taken steps to address racism in schools.

"Not only are we supportive in that, we actually take a lead in that," he said, adding the school division organized a massive Canada 150 event involving thousands of students from all walks of life at Investors Group Field last May.

Fransen said the boy who was bullied is doing well, under the circumstances.

"I admire the family. They are resilient and forgiving and they want to work together," he said. 

"If there's a silver lining it's the way in which it has been handled."
A Winnipeg high school says it's taking action to address racist and hateful messages that were shared among multiple students on social media over the summer. 1:45