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Kamloops  

Mom livid after school employee allegedly threatens to cut braid off First Nations student

Threatened to cut off braid

An Indigenous Kamloops woman says a school district employee threatened to cut her son’s braid off earlier this month if he didn't finish his work — an action she called “a direct attack on our culture.”

Corrina Fraser's 15-year-old son goes to South Kamloops secondary school. She said he was told by a school staff member — not a teacher, but an educational assistant — that his braid would be snipped if he didn't complete his work.

Fraser said the incident took place during the first week of the school year. According to the school district, it happened on Sept. 10.

Fraser said the staffer approached her son and asked him a question about his hair.

"Then she told him, 'OK, well remember to do your work — get to work. If not, I'm going to cut your hair off,'" Fraser told Castanet Kamloops.

She said she's very upset about the incident.

“This is a direct attack on our culture, heritage and spiritual beliefs,” Fraser said.

“Such a bigoted statement and racial slur in this day and age of acceptance is appalling.”

Fraser said she reported the incident to School District 73 officials.

According to the district, an investigation took place in a “prompt” and “sensitive” manner. SD73 said the student and the staffer were both questioned according to district policies, as were other witnesses.

Fraser said she was contacted and told the staff member would no longer be at South Kam, but she was not told whether they would be penalized. She said she is worried the staff member will be moved to another school in the district and the issue will not be addressed.

“Is it just going to happen to another kid?” Fraser said.

Castanet Kamloops asked SD73 brass for details about the investigation and its conclusions, as well as whether the staffer had been disciplined. Citing privacy, district officials said they could not provide any additional information.

SD73 Supt. Rhonda Nixon said the district has been taking actions to prevent such situations.

“We, as a school jurisdiction, have been taking steps for some time in terms of working with our staff and our students — but especially on the goal and the absolute importance of truth and reconciliation," Nixon told Castanet.

“We know that nobody is perfect and incidents are not always predictable. But what is it important is that we take a preventative approach to them happening again."

Shayne Olsen, SD73's associate superintendent of human resources, said the investigation is complete.

"[The investigation happened] quite quickly, because we obviously see this as a very serious situation," he said.

"And we want to investigate these sort of scenarios as quickly as we possibly can."

Fraser said she's still shaken up by the incident.

"It is very, very crazy," she said.

"I couldn't believe that she would threaten my kid like this."



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