By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — A high school teacher in Manitoba has been placed on leave and is being investigated over social media comments that one aboriginal leader called hurtful and racist.
Kevin Hart, who filed a complaint with the school, said Thursday that a Facebook page under the name of Brad Badiuk, a technology teacher at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, contained statements that said aboriginals are looking for free money from non-aboriginals.
The Facebook posts also said aboriginals should work for their money, said Hart, who added some comments were directed specifically at Derek Nepinak, head of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
“The … comments were very hurtful to my community and the grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and they were racist as well,” said Hart, who works with Nepinak at the assembly.
“I was very hurt and a little angered that one of the educators of our children … could hold these views.”
The Facebook page had been deleted Thursday and attempts to reach Badiuk were not successful.
The Winnipeg School Division would not name Badiuk, but said a veteran teacher was being investigated and could face disciplinary measures if found to have crossed a line. Those consequences could be anything from an order to undergo sensitivity training to outright dismissal.
School division officials “have to authenticate the post and they have to make sure that the individual actually was the one that was responsible for posting it,” said board chairman Mark Wasyliw.
“And the other thing they have to find out is whether or not what was posted was more than just offensive, that it was actually racist and sort of beyond the pale,” he said.
“Something like 40 per cent of our student body is aboriginal background, and we’re trying to create safe and inclusive school environments, and obviously something like this would be deeply hurtful and offensive to many people.”
Wasyliw said there was no estimate on how long the investigation might take.
The comments about aboriginals were denounced on social media.
“These are words of disrespect and words of attack. They are the verbal equivalent of a slap in the face or a punch to the head,” Murray Sinclair, head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, wrote on his personal Facebook page.
“Any aboriginal child in his classroom would know almost instantly that he does not like them or their family, or where they come from or their leaders, or their heroes or their sense of self.”