Vancouver student settles human rights complaint over anti-Black video circulated by fellow student

A student has reached a settlement in her complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against the Vancouver School Board for how it dealt with anti-Black racism at Lord Byng Secondary School after a threatening video surfaced.

After signing an undisclosed settlement with the Vancouver School Board on Friday, Changich Baboth also received a courage award given to her by community group Speak Up Youth Forums for her push to have better anti-racist policies in place in Vancouver schools.

Baboth pointed out that it was “full circle moment” when she received the honour and that she was happy to move on.

“I would not want anyone to ever go through what I went through,” said Baboth.

She had spoken out about a racist video which was posted to Facebook and that began circulating at the school on Vancouver’s West Side in November 2018 when she was in Grade 10.

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It showed a white teenager, then aged 15, talking in a low voice about how he hates Black people, using the N-word, and says he hopes they all die.

“I just want to line them all up and just chuck an explosive in there and go ka-boom,” the student says.

Taking action

Changich’s mother Rita Baboth, who attended meetings with police, the school district and other parents over school policy, thanked the community for its support.

She said there is now more awareness about the problem and hopes for more change.

Baboth and another parent Suzanne Daley both had daughters who are Black attending Lord Byng Secondary when the video was circulating on social media.

“We were made to feel like we didn’t matter,” said Daley, whose daughter was in Grade 8 at the time.

They all feel it took the Vancouver School District too long to come up with a policy to deal with hate in schools.

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The mothers noted their daughters switched schools because of the incident while the boy who created the video was given permission to resume his studies at Lord Byng. But following an outcry from parents and advocates, he did not return.

The director of Speak Up Youth Forums, Marie Tate, said racism at the school and its impact on students was not properly acknowledged.

“We all know that it wasn’t being taken very seriously and Changich was amazingly courageous in trying to bring that forward to try to create awareness.”

Hopes for closure

The Vancouver School District said in a statement Friday that it appreciates and respects the independent and important work of the Human Rights Tribunal.

It also said it would be inappropriate for the district to comment on the process or any decisions taken.

The Vancouver Police Department says due to confidentiality, it cannot comment on the agreement. However it stands by the investigation into the video and said the student who produced it was held accountable under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

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VPD spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin acknowledged the content of the video was racist, hateful and hurtful.

“Although the impact of the video cannot be reversed, we’re hoping the agreement brings closure to everyone involved,” said Visintin.

 

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