Oliver students face hate from protesters

By Don Urquhart, Times-Chronicle

Four brave young students from Oliver are taking a strong stand against the racist and anti-mandate hate rant by a Southern Okanagan Secondary School (SOSS) woman on Friday, which brought both messages of support and hate, including death threats.

the Times-Chronicle spoke with Tennessee, Kamryn and Kai on Sunday, all 12th graders at the high school. They chose to use only their first names for fear of repercussions. Their Indo-Canadian friend and fellow 12th grader who was the target of the racist attack has not been named because she fears for her safety and that of her family.

The now viral video which is going around the world has racked up more than a million views on Saturday alone and clearly shows the woman verbally insulting 12th graders with racist comments and even calling them c* *ts.

The three remained in close contact with their victim friend. I ask Tennessee hhow is her friend. “She’s like . . . I don’t mean she’s doing well, I don’t mean she’s fine because after that, how can you be fine?” said the 17-year-old.

“But we are all showing him a lot of support. My whole school, students, show her a lot of support, but she feels really anxious because of what she told me just because she doesn’t want it to affect her life.

Kai adds that they saw her today (Sunday) and that much of what is released, including a spot on the Global TV network, is transmitted by these three friends.

“She kind of spoke through us,” Kai says. “She talked to us and told us what to say and a lot of what we said in the interview was rephrased because for us white passers-by, we don’t have such a big risk doing that, so really Kamryn, Tennessee and I have been here using our voices and it’s really powerful, I think, the amount of attention we have.

The three friends garnered a lot of attention, far beyond the Okanagan Valley. Tennessee says a lot of hate messages have come through social media, but there’s more support than hate.

For Kai, who has 30,000 followers on TikTok, it’s a similar but even more grim situation.

“I posted about it and got hundreds of DMs [direct messages] with death threats telling me that it’s not my fight and that I don’t know.

“Adults have told me we’re teenagers and we don’t have to worry about it, but I feel like a lot of people are saying that just because we’re young, we don’t know. not as much or our efforts don’t matter as much. But I think they matter more because we are the future, no one will change for us.

The student body has rallied en masse around the victim and his supporters, even doing a ‘deep dive’ to find what they believe to be the woman’s Facebook page which identifies her as living in Alberta and originally from from Germany. As far as they know, the woman has no connection with the school.

Kai says the three of them initially engaged the protesters, trying to reason with them, asking them why they were protesting at a school. “WWe asked them “what do you want” and “you can leave, you are in front of a school, you look stupid”.

Things went south quickly, however. “They were yelling at us to take our masks off and the whole group was like ‘you’re just a bunch of sheep, you’re wearing your masks, take them off’ and they were laughing at us for wearing them.”

Kai adds that the woman approached her and spat on her shoes. “This lady came up to me and spat on my shoes and then walked away, it was disgusting.”

Kai responded by yelling at the woman, then “people started ganging up on us.”

Tennessee, who recorded the entire encounter on his phone, said the protesters arrived 30 minutes before school ended and gathered where the youngest in the school are being picked up. “They told the students to take their masks off, so everyone started fighting back,” she says.

The young woman of color can be seen standing up to the racist bully in the video. The bully then asks her if she knows how the goods enter Canada by truck. The student replies that it doesn’t matter how the goods get here if the safety of the community is threatened by non-compliance with the warrants.

“This woman, the blonde lady was asking my friend who is Punjabi if she even has the right to live in Canada and telling her to go back to her country.” In a bizarre twist, the woman then told the Indo-Canadian student that she was the one being racist.

“We all started screaming as loud as we could because we were so mad and it was so infuriating to go through it and she started screaming in our face and calling us c**ts,” Tennessee says.

At one point, she feared that the woman would become violent. “She was saying nasty things to us and at one point I really thought she was going to get physical with us because she was so close to it. It was the most horrible thing ever. »

“I don’t really have words to describe it,” Kamryn said. “We are so infuriated why they were coming to a school and the woman came out calling my friends the ‘C’ word and said these racist things to my other friend.

“We were all in shock, it’s so awful and all the other protesters were at most a meter away and half of them had a little smile and just stared and said nothing,” she said. with obvious disgust.

“They allowed this to happen and some of the parents had small children with them, even as a parent watching a woman talk to a child like that and say nothing. . .” she is silent, words escape her.

Kamryn says the other protesting parents (some of whom the trio know are the parents of classmates) came to them afterward saying the woman was not with them. “It was so annoying,” Kamryn says. “Just because you didn’t know she was going to be there, but she’s here for the same reason you are and you allowed her to say those things.”

“By coming to school, you’ve given him a platform to say these things and by coming to school, you’re allowing these extremists to say these things and act that way,” she says. directing his contempt on these parents. “They are just allowing it. So you can’t say, “Oh, she’s not in it, she’s not with us”, it doesn’t matter.

Tennessee adds, “There were relatives there with the protesters. I’m in 12th grade and my friends are in 12th grade and there were other 12th graders with their families watching this happen with the racist girl and they were just sitting there laughing at us. None of the protesters there took that lady away, none of them said ‘ok let’s go’, none of them stepped in and said anything,” she said. with disbelief.

“It makes me so angry, so disgusted and so embarrassed for them, the fact that they didn’t give us any support was really disgusting.”

After the incident, the four huddled with other students to try to make sense of what happened. “We are all standing together, some were crying. I wasn’t crying but my heart was racing and honestly we just looked at each other like ‘what just happened?’

“And we just talked about it with her [the victim] and our other friends who weren’t fighting were trying to make us laugh and help us. Kamryn and I were just screaming about it, we were so angry it definitely took a while.

Kai, on the other hand, had to get on the school bus and was so angry that they were shaking.

“I was so angry that I couldn’t control the things that came out of my mouth and even now I have such a deep feeling of anger that washes over me that I can’t even remember most of the things that I said. I told him.”

“I’m pretty sure almost all of us were shaking, especially our friend who was being targeted. We were shaking, it was really shocking, especially for 2022 and in Canada, which is supposed to be one of the most inclusive and kind countries. Kai adds that it’s no secret that racism is “very prevalent, but for it to happen while I was there, it was very eye-opening I would say”.

For Kamryn, the anger continued at home, but at some point it turned into pride. “I was extremely angry after it happened and there was a lot of screaming in my house!”

“I was just declaiming to get it out on my system but right now I feel a lot of pride for my school and my friends just the way we kids are spreading this message and others are reposting it and we put hands on people in the media and I think that shows how well children are able to shed some light on this.

According to Tennessee, the school told students that anyone who wanted to come into the school and talk about the incident was welcome. She adds that the vice principle of SOSS was followed by SMS on Saturday.

Times-Chronicle will have additional coverage on this story.

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