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)

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)                                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)

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

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

Kieran Christison, manager of Daybreak Farms in Terrace inspects eggs on Oct. 30, 2020. Christison wants to transition to a zero waste, cage-free facility. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Daybreak Farms aiming to achieve zero-waste, cage-free facility

Kieran Christison, manager, presented the farm’s future plans to Terrace city council

Mercedes Trigo, assistant manager, said that Trigo’s Lifestyle Store in Terrace has experienced four broken windows and an attempted break-in recently, leaving her feeling unsupported by bystanders and the police. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Trigo’s management frustrated by property damage, theft

In a little over a month there have been four broken windows and an attempted break-in at the store

Two RCMP officers have been recognized for their actions in responding to an incident involving a man with a weapon at 4501 Park Ave. on the afternoon of April 27, 2020. RCMP say it was an isolated incident and there is no danger to the general public. (Jake Wray photo)
Terrace RCMP officers recognized for acts of bravery

Two involved in arrest of armed suspect

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Most Read