In the wake of a recent social media post by Chilliwack Board of Education trustee Barry Neufeld in which he used an ableist derogatory slur to describe three Chilliwack Progress employees, the Chilliwack Teachers Association (CTA) is stepping up to create a more positive message.
Kicking off a social media campaign with the hashtag #ThisIsMyChilliwack, CTA president Ed Klettke said that teachers are encouraged to highlight positivity and caring in local schools.
The campaign follows a similar one by the CTA in May to counter comments Neufeld made about Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.
“In these difficult times, Chilliwack teachers continue to do amazing work every day,” Klettke said. “We love our community and we love teaching. We care about our students and families.”
The message came in a press release issued Friday afternoon.
“The CTA is encouraging members of the Chilliwack education community to take to Twitter and Facebook to share their experiences of respect, inclusivity and positivity in our school.
“We’re asking people to include the hashtag #ThisIsMyChilliwack.”
They say the campaign is aimed to illustrate how the education community in Chilliwack rises above the negativity and prejudice that has been recently expressed on Facebook and in local media.
The press release, shared widely by the B.C. Teachers Federation, addressed a Facebook post on Thursday night, Nov. 19, in which Neufeld referred to two journalists and the publisher using the R-word.
He was quickly denounced on social media by various people, and the story garnered attention from most media outlets in the Lower Mainland.
Education Minister Rob Fleming took to Twitter Friday afternoon to renew his public call for Neufeld to resign as a school trustee.
I am once again appalled by the comments of Mr. Neufeld on social media and I am renewing my public calls for him to resign as a school trustee.
It’s reprehensible that his offensive behaviour continues.
— Rob Fleming (@Rob_Fleming) November 20, 2020
The CTA press release came to the defence of The Progress and its coverage of the school board.
“The Chilliwack Progress is the oldest and one of the most successful community papers in BC, and part of that success comes from the courage not to shy away from controversy.”
The CTA said there is no place in schools for offensive and insensitive language.
“Hurtful slurs have no place in the inclusive classrooms of today or in a respectful and caring learning community. Our entire school community needs to support the safety and education of all Chilliwack students. Public schools in B.C. open their doors to all students. The Chilliwack Teachers’ Association strives to make sure our schools are safe, inclusive, and welcoming for all children, youth, and families.”
Given it’s not the first time harmful comments have had a negative impact, the CTA is starting this social media campaign to focus on the “caring and creative ways that teachers, students, parents, and staff are responding to the stresses and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic and the prejudices it has exposed.”
Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.