November 26, 2010

Haircutting = human rights violation?

In January 2010 I reported on a story that happened in May 2009: Teacher's Aide Chopped Native Boy's Hair. The aide wasn't charged with anything, but the case is still alive.

Haircutting incident heading to human rights tribunal

By Rick GarrickThe haircutting incident at a Thunder Bay school that prevented a First Nation boy from following his traditional dancing practices is going before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

“It was traumatic for him, it was traumatic for the family,” said Julian Falconer, explaining the seven-year-old boy did not participate in traditional dancing for “some time” after his hair was cut by a teacher’s assistant at McKellar Park School in April 2009.

The family asked for accountability and were demeaned for doing it, that somehow they were in it for the money, Falconer said.

“How bizarre is that? If it were anybody else’s child, I can absolutely assure you they would have asked for and gotten accountability,” Falconer, a Toronto-based lawyer known for human rights and public interest litigation, said.
And:First Nation leaders had called for an investigation into the issue shortly after the haircutting incident happened, including Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse, who said First Nations want to understand why and how the incident happened and ensure it never happens again.

“For First Nations, this is a painful and harsh reminder of what our children suffered in the residential schools, where braids were cut as part of the overall denigration of our people and culture,” Toulouse said.

Alvin Fiddler, a Nishnawbe Aski Nation deputy grand chief at the time, called for an explanation of the circumstances that led to the decision not to lay charges against the teacher’s assistant.

“What we have now is confusion as the Thunder Bay Police say the responsibility for charges rests with the Crown and the Ministry of the Attorney General saying the responsibility rests with the Thunder Bay Police,” Fiddler said.

“First they claimed it wasn’t in the public interest and now for the first time, without ever having consulted with the child’s parents, they say it’s ‘to avoid revictimizing the child.’”
Comment:  For another hair-related case, see Court Rules for Long-Haired Boy.

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

First Nation family settles 'hair cut' human rights complaint

The Lakehead District School Board won't comment on the settlement except to say that both parties are happy with the result. The teaching assistant reportedly no longer works for the board.