Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld brought residential schools into the SOGI 123 debate that’s been brewing in this district since October, when he began criticizing the teacher resource.

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld brought residential schools into the SOGI 123 debate that’s been brewing in this district since October, when he began criticizing the teacher resource.

School trustee under fire again – this time for offensive slur at Chilliwack journalists

Chilliwack Teachers Association, Education Minister condemn Barry Neufeld’s comments targeting the Chilliwack Progress

A controversial Chilliwack school trustee is once again under fire – garnering condemnation by provincial politicians and the public – after using an ableist slur aimed at three Black Press Media employees.

The offensive word was used in a public Facebook post Thursday (Nov. 19) targeting a Chilliwack Progress reporter, the editor and the publisher.

Neufeld’s post was soon changed to no longer include the R-word before being deleted – but not before being screen-grabbed by many, including advocates for disabled people.

(Barry Neufeld/Facebook)

(Barry Neufeld/Facebook)

The social media post comes just a few days after Neufeld was given a community hero award by Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl for “going above and beyond to make our community a better place during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Since the comment was posted, an online petition started by a Chilliwack resident has quickly picked up steam. As of Friday at 2 p.m., 1,619 people had signed the petition, titled “REMOVE BARRY NEUFELD.”

This isn’t the first time Neufeld has attracted criticism.

Neufeld has long stood against the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity program in B.C. schools, with calls for his resignation after making anti-trans comments in 2018. That same year, the BC Teachers’ Federation filed a human rights complaint against him, alleging his comments were creating an unsafe work environment.

This year, the school board censured Neufeld after he made social media posts questioning the gender identity of Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top doctor.

In a series of tweets on Friday, Nov. 20, B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming called for Neufeld to resign from his position as school trustee.

“In addition to targeting the LGBTQ community, and peddling conspiracy theories about Dr. Tam and COVID-19, he is now targeting ableist slurs at individuals,” Fleming said.

“It’s time for him to step down.”

In a separate statement, the Chilliwack Teachers Association voiced their support for the local newspaper while condemning Neufeld’s actions.

“They are dedicated and professional journalists who are not afraid to stand up for decency and fairness and to speak out against bigotry and narrow-mindedness,” the statement reads.

“The Chilliwack Progress is the oldest and one of the most successful community papers in B.C., and part of that success comes from the courage not to shy away from controversy.”

The association added that hurtful slurs have no place in schools.

In a statement on behalf of Black Press Media, editorial director Andrew Holota said, “We’re aware of the social media posts that followed a story by reporter Jessica Peters in the Nov. 5 Chilliwack Progress in regard to the Chilliwack school board.

“The public has a right to be informed about the decisions and actions of elected government representatives. We stand behind the Nov. 5 story, which accurately portrays the ongoing divisiveness within the Chilliwack school board, and the conduct and behaviour which has manifested between trustees. Mr. Neufeld’s factually inaccurate Nov. 19 Facebook post is a reflection of that discord, and it is now the focus of appropriate public attention and response. The Progress will continue to provide factual and impartial editorial coverage of this and other important community issues.”

Black Press Media has reached out to Neufeld for comment.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

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

Just Posted

Emma Garriott is releasing her second album titled ‘Sad White Girl Angst.’ (Emma Garriott / Facebook photo)
North Island musician releases second album titled ‘Sad White Girl Angst’

“When you hear it, I want you to feel like your best friend in the whole world is sitting beside you’

North Island mayors say their voices should be heard by DFO before final decisions are made about fish farms. (Black Press file photo)
Mayors asking to be let in on fish farm consultations

DFO evaluating 18 Discovery Island fish farms and transitioning from open-net farms

Broughton Curling Club. (Clint Fiske photo)
Broughton Curling Club might end season by mid-December

The club is weighing the options and will see what the turnout continues to look like week by week.

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MP to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MacGregor’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Lake community comes together to help family get vital pool

Oliver Finlayson, 9, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and hydrotherapy is a big help

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Most Read