Screenshot from video.

Screenshot from video.

2 students arrested in assault of transgender girl at Lower Mainland school

Mother says daughter was targeted because of how she identifies

Two Mission students have been arrested following an alleged assault on a transgender girl at École Heritage Park Middle School on Monday, Jan. 11.

Charges have been sent to Crown Counsel for the two Grade 8 girls, who were arrested and released this morning, according to Cpl. Jason Raaflaub of the Mission RCMP. One girl has had one assault charge recommended, while one count of assault and one count of uttering threats has been recommended for the other.

The victim’s mother – who the Record is keeping anonymous to protect the family from any harassment – received a text message from her daughter shortly after the attack.

“She was just in tears,” the mother said. “She said, ‘I need you, I was beaten up.’”

After the child was picked up from the school, the family had to relive the event when they looked online. Students had filmed the attack and posted the video to social media.

Watching the two students punching and kicking her daughter on the ground while other students laugh and jeer in the background was “heartbreaking,” the mother said.

“Kick her in the head!” one onlooker yells in the video. Another laughs and said he’d cut off their head for $5. Only one student can be heard in defense of the victim in the background.

The victim identifies as transgender, and the mother believes this is the reason for the attack. The family went to the Mission RCMP detachment the following Tuesday to report the assault.

The mother said the bullying has been happening since the beginning of the school year, and is being committing by one group of approximately four students from the same social circle. She said one of the girls has a long history of abusing her child and had recently transferred to the school.

She said they frequently call her child homophobic slurs.

“We get phone calls and texts from her asking to come home from school because she was being picked on,” the mother said. “It’s not the kind of thing you expect you kid to have to go through.”

The family had complained to the school district prior to the assault, and were assured that everything was being done in order to prevent further bullying, according to the mother.

She said certain students have been moved away from her child in the classroom, and one student had already been previously suspended for the bullying.

The investigation is “far from done,” said Raaflaub, as officers are still interviewing witnesses, adding the two girls will have their first court appearance in late March.

He said investigators are in contact with Superintendent Angus Wilson and the school principal, and they could potentially be looking at the incident as a hate crime.

“There is some indication that may be a contributing factor,” Raaflaub said, who said minors can be charged the same way as adults under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, but are reviewed different parameters.

“If that angle was a motivating factor … we’re definitely going to be forwarding that to Crown Counsel.”

Wilson, for his part, did say it appeared to be a hate crime.

“It was a totally heinous attack, and profound consequences are happening to these perpetrators,” he said. “Extreme violence, especially ganged-up violence and hate crime could quite potentially lead to an expulsion from the school.”

The school district is in the process of reviewing their procedures, staffing, supervisors, along with events and instructions around anti-bullying, cyber-bullying, and mental-health supports, according to Wilson.

He said he wanted to clarify his comments made to another media outlet as to how the incident relates to COVID-19. Principals have noticed an upswing in violence and bullying outside of the classroom since the pandemic began, Wilson said.

“[I did not mean] that it was the cause of this fight, it absolutely was not,” he said.

He said there may be consequences for students who filmed the attack and did nothing, although he did add there were students not seen in the video who did try to intervene.

Safer School Together and the Ministry of Education are working to get the video taken off the web, according to Wilson.

Mission

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Big White Ski Resort pictured on Feb. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
No new COVID-19 cases at Big White in past week: IH

No more cases have been detected since IH’s last Big White Mountai update, Feb. 19

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Female deputy fire chief embraces the challenges

“Fighting a fire can be taught to anyone,” says Kelowna deputy fire chief, Sandra Follack

Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield. (Contributed)
Gender no deterrent for Kelowna businesswoman, MLA

“He looked at me, and he said, ‘You’ll never be as good of a developer as I am.’” — Renee Merrifield

While the Okanagan Rail Trail remained open, Coldstream parks have been closed for a month now, but could re-open mid-May. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Funds link Okanagan Rail Trail to Predator Ridge

1.3-km section of multi-use trail with a safe crossing under Highway 97

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here are the stories that made waves in the Okanagan-Shuswap

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

BC Housing has proposed that the emergency winter shelter at Victory Church at 352 Winnipeg Street be extended as a shelter until March 31, 2022. It was originally intended to be open until April 1, 2021. (Jesse Day - Western News)
One more year of ‘temporary’ homeless shelter in Penticton?

BC Housing has applied to extend Victory Church as a shelter for those experiencing homelessness

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Most Read