Aunt of First Nations boy whose ankle was tied to another student files petition
The great-aunt of a boy who spent a school day tied at the ankle to another student is going to court in a bid to overturn a decision by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation to take no action against the teacher.
The boy — who was eight at the time and in Grade 2 at the Capilano Little Ones School in West Vancouver — had his ankle tied to another boy with a strip of T-shirt material, three-legged race style, after the two boys had been misbehaving together, according to court documents.
A teacher of the boy at the First Nation school had consulted with her superior and a decision had been made to keep the boys tied together all day, on May 13, 2015, as a different approach to help them learn to resolve conflict appropriately, say the documents.
The boys remained tied together for much of the day, including at lunch hour. During a break in the afternoon, one of the boys asked the teacher if they could be untied but she told them that they were to remain tied up for the whole day.
No harm came to the children but some staff were uncomfortable with the situation and contacted the head of the Squamish Nation Education Department, which later in the day directed that the boys be untied.
Jo-Ann Nahanee, the grand-aunt of the boy, says in her petition filed in B.C. Supreme Court that she first learned of the unusual situation at a June 7, 2015 meeting of the Squamish Nation, of which she is a member.
“When I heard about the incident, I was very upset, and I stood up and told everyone at the meeting that I did not agree that tying two children together all day long was an acceptable form of punishment, particularly for First Nations children,” Nahanee says in an affidavit attached to the petition. “I was subjected to the same form of punishment in the residential school where I attended.”
In a decision in the case that was released March 17, Bruce Preston, the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation, said that the use of the three-legged strategy was “flawed” and the students were not treated with appropriate dignity and respect.
Preston said the strategy employed by the teacher, Chantel Michell, was also not sensitive to community members who are survivors or relatives of survivors of the residential schools.
But he said he had decided to take no further action because there was “no reasonable prospect” that a hearing panel would find Michell’s conduct was a marked departure that constitutes professional misconduct.
No response been filed to the petition, which contains allegations that have not been tested in court. A spokesman for the education ministry said there would be no comment at this time.