Quebec teen suspended for donning sports jersey in support of Humboldt victims

Philippe Volek, 14, was kicked out of class for wearing a red and blue soccer shirt to his high school in Sainte-Adèle, north of Montreal, for Jersey Day. He was told to take it off or go home. He chose to leave.

School says 14-year-old Philippe Volek's soccer shirt had nothing to do with hockey or the Broncos

Philippe Volek, 14, poses in this undated handout photo. He was kicked out of class and ultimately chose to go home after wearing a jersey to show of support for the victims of the Humboldt Broncos crash. (Canadian Press handout)

A Quebec high school student who wore a jersey to school to show support for the victims of the crash involving the Humboldt Broncos says he was kicked out of class for his gesture.

Philippe Volek, 14, decided to wear a red and blue soccer shirt to his high school in Sainte-Adèle, north of Montreal, on Thursday after hearing about a nationwide Jersey Day event to honour the 16 people killed in the Saskatchewan crash.

He said he was motivated to take part because he has a one-hour bus ride to school each day and realizes accidents can happen to anyone.

"If it [were to] happen here, they'd probably do a movement like this and I thought it was important to support the families," Volek said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press.

But Volek said his teacher sent him to the principal's office for violating the school's dress code.

There, he was given a choice: either replace the jersey with a school-approved polo shirt or accept a suspension from class.

Volek chose to go home.

"I wanted to stay loyal to my beliefs and I want to support [Jersey Day]," he said.

"It's for a good cause and I believe it makes a difference for the families."

A history of dress code violations

A spokesman for the school board confirmed the suspension, pointing out the jersey had nothing to do with hockey or the Broncos.

Bernard Dufourd said officials at Augustin-Norbert-Morin high school believed the student, who he says has a history of dress code violations, wore the soccer top as a "pretext" to avoid the standard attire.

"If the student had chosen to wear a Broncos sweater, we would have understood his gesture was noble,'' he said in a phone interview.

Across the country Thursday, people showed up to work and school decked out in sports jerseys as part of Jersey Day, inspired by a group of British Columbia hockey moms to send a message of support for the families who lost loved ones in the Humboldt crash.
Across the country Thursday, people showed up to work and school decked out in sports jerseys as part of Jersey Day. (Submitted by Brad Wittke)

Many employers, including the Canadian Forces and Toronto's transit authority, relaxed their uniform rules to allow their staff to take part.

Dufourd said Volek's gesture had nevertheless made the school aware that jerseys could be a way of showing solidarity.

He said the school will work with students to find a way to honour the victims of the crash.

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