Aunt of First Na­tions boy whose an­kle was tied to an­other stu­dent files pe­ti­tion

The Province - - NEWS - KEITH FRASER kfraser@post­media.com twit­ter.com/kei­thrfraser

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.

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