Skeena Middle School parents, students gather in front of the school during lunch break on June 12 to protest administrative changes announced by the school district. (Brittany Gervais/Terrace Standard)

Community gathers at two Terrace schools to protest SD82

Participants carried signs reading ‘We demand transparency’

As soon as the lunch bell rang on June 12, parents, students and community members gathered outside Suwilaawks Community School and Skeena Middle School demanding answers and transparency from SD82.

Kermode Friendship Society executive director Cal Albright spoke to more than 60 students and parents at Suwilaawks and urged residents to come together to protest the recent school district announcement that current principal Pam Kawinsky is to take a teaching position this fall.

The superintendent and school board have not explained why their decision to move Kawinsky and Skeena Middle School administrators Phillip Barron and Cory Killoran was made, or how this change is in the best interests of students, citing privacy concerns.

“This school, they have a lot of cultural programming because a lot of us, we grew up to be ashamed of who we are [as Indigenous people],” Albright says at the protest. “The school board and administration made such a decision amongst themselves… we cannot allow [them] to go ahead and do something that is going to directly affect the education of our children.”

READ MORE: Teachers cast vote of no confidence against superintendent

Albright adds he will be speaking at the school board’s next meeting on June 19.

Nellie Aksidan, who also spoke at the protest, shared some of her own story when her late son attended Suwilaawks.

“[Kawinsky] did everything she could to help [students], to meet them where they’re at, to give them jobs that they enjoyed doing. Who would have thought my son loved gardening if it wasn’t for her?” Aksidan says.

“My son died at 15-years-old, and she was with me through that whole process… to this very day, I see her supporting our families. Why break something that isn’t broken?”

Around the same time, more than 70 people, some wearing red and pink shirts, met outside of Skeena Middle School, carrying signs reading ‘We demand transparency,’ ‘Save our principals,’ and simply, ‘Why?’ 

“We can make a difference. Today we support our children, we support our principals,” says Karleen Lemiski to the crowd. “We will not be silent.”

READ MORE: School district remains firm on reassignments

Terrace school board trustee Art Erasmus was inside Skeena Middle School during the protest. He declined to comment on the outpouring of confusion and frustration from the community about these decisions, but advised residents to attend the next school district meeting in Terrace on June 19.

A community-led petition demanding the administrators keep their current positions has collected about 1,000 signatures.

The parent protest was organized on the same date as the start of the then-illegal 1981 teacher’s strike that led to provincial unionization and fairer bargaining rights for teachers.


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coast Mountains School District 82

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

 

Skeena Middle School parents, students gather in front of the school during lunch break on June 12 carrying signs. (Brittany Gervais/Terrace Standard)

Skeena Middle School parents, students gather in front of the school during lunch break on June 12 carrying signs. (Brittany Gervais/Terrace Standard) Skeena Middle School parents, students gather in front of the school during lunch break on June 12 carrying signs. (Brittany Gervais/Terrace Standard)

From left: Luca, Connor and Victor Villeneuve joined in front of Suwilaawks Community School on June 12 to protest administrative changes announced by the district. (Brittany Gervais/Terrace Standard)

Just Posted

City of Terrace calling on Province to take stricter social distancing measures

The City sent the Province a letter earlier this month with a number of recommendations

Northern Health preparing ‘for a changing situation’ in response to COVID-19

The health authority is taking a number of measures to free up hospital capacity where possible

Grant could help ease road rebuild cost

Would help pay for sidewalk, bike lane

Terrace Library, Misty River Books adapt amid COVID-19 to keep readers reading

Library also unrolling online programs to keep kids occupied

Preventable accidents may impede Search and Rescue capacity during pandemic

TSAR vice president urges outdoor enthusiasts to pause risky activities

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

Most Read