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

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

(Metro Creative photo)
Barriere Lions holding bottle drive to help out local Legion

The Barriere Lions Club are gearing up to collect bottles and cans… Continue reading

Mason scores a sweet goal during scrimmage practice at the Sportsplex on Saturday (Jan. 9) morning, with a little support from Eric. While engaged in the game of scrimmage, the pre-novice (under age 6) and novice (aged 7 & 8) players worked on their shots, aiming for the pylon in net. (Stephanie Hagenaars photo)
He shoots, he scores!

Mason scores a sweet goal during scrimmage practice at the Sportsplex on… Continue reading

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

Most Read