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

The barge sank again on Jan. 8 and is still resting under water. (Bill McQuarrie photo)
Refloating of sunken barge to resume in early February

This will be the second attempt at recovery after poor weather conditions caused it to re-sink.

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

North Island Gazette file photo of Port Hardy council
Port Hardy council proclaims the last week of March ‘Bear Smart Week’

Council agreed to allocate $3,000 for funding towards ‘Bear Smart Week’ signage.

Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas. (Dennis Dugas photo)
Port Hardy mayor talks two years in office, ready to move forward in 2021

Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas tackles a number of different topics in an interview with the Gazette.

Dex needs surgery after breaking his paw in the panic caused by an apartment fire. (Submitted)
Dog needs surgery after apartment fire injury

A fundraiser has been started to contribute towards veterinarian costs

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read