CORNWALL Ontario – That’s David K Thomas. He runs the Upper Canada District School Board or UCDSB.
The world is a weird place. I was always taught as a child that as long as you tell the truth everything works out.
In this case it seems that Mr. Thomas and his school board are issuing suit against myself and CFN. (although not against the Jewish Tribune which reprinted our original story)
It will be the first lawsuit against us in our history (CFN is now in its sixth year).
What has Mr. Thomas and his group of intolerant cohorts upset is an incident that we covered that occurred at CCVS here in Cornwall, in what was the former Jewish section of the community.
Most of the Jewish “families” of Cornwall’s history have left the city of nearly 50,000 souls. Jews have a rich history here in Cornwall. The first mayor of Cornwall, a distant relative of my own from Romania, Aaron Horowitz, was Jewish. Famous Toronto mayor Nathan Phillip’s family home is across the street from CCVS.
When I was first approached by the victim of this mess; a person who was attending a night activity at the school, I was surprised and shocked.
The complaint was simple. There was some graffiti in not one, but two washrooms at the normally well attended high school.
(Actual swastika carved at CCVS: picture courtesy of victim’s ipod)
Swastikas; the most recognized symbol of hatred of the last 80 or so years.
Swastikas are also outlawed in some countries. That’s right; use a Swastika and you could go to jail in some places.
So when this victim contacted the principal of the school, one Patricia Brown, they didn’t expect to see the same Swastikas again.
But that’s what happened, not once, but two more times; one time in person. Principal Brown is alleged to have made a joke even about not going into the boys washrooms herself.
At that time I attended to the school with him to verify. I’m funny that way. While I may not have a journalism degree I 100% agree in presenting facts as facts. We were met by a vice principal and lo and behold the exact two Swastikas were there.
The VP was apologetic. Two custodians, one apparently the main one, both stated that they didn’t know about them and hadn’t been told to remove them.
Within an hour the VP had called me and said that the issue was remedied.
Why hadn’t this been done when our victim asked Principal Brown? So I wrote that in a story. It was picked up in the Jewish Tribune even.
Was the school board’s reaction to apologize? Was the Principal’s decision to apologize? Nope.
Instead a holocaust victim was brought in to speak to the kids. Was this scheduled or done as a reaction to our story? I’m not sure?
What I do know is that Principal Brown had a chance to apologize and didn’t. Nope. Not a word as you can see in her speech at the event to those present.
She talks about character and leadership, but where was her own in admitting to the error of judgement that she clearly made? She’s entrusted to protect the students; exposing them to hate symbols is surely a fail at that level, no?
She talks leadership in introducing David Thomas. Where was his leadership in this event other than threatening me on the phone multiple times; from reporting me to Journalism agencies to issuing suit?
She herself mentions the two swastikas, one carved onto a wall, and one onto the wall of a washroom stall. While I understand that there is an asbestos issue at the school which made solutions to one of the swastikas an issue; but surely there was no asbestos in the second.
She talks of feelings and heart; but what about the victim whose family members were murdered under the symbol of the Swastika or myself who nearly lost over half of my own family to WWII and the Nazi regime? Do our feelings and hearts not count?
The issue was never the graffiti. The issue was the indifference shown by Principal Patricia Brown that was only heightened by the abuse and threats that have now turned into a lawsuit by the head of the School board, Mr. Thomas.
Even our Premier; Kathleen Wynne, whose office was contacted and asked if she supports Swastikas in a high school for a month was contacted on the day of her issuing a release about the Holocaust. She ducked the issue.
The Gas Chambers and horrors of World War II happened a long time ago. There are less and less alive that were there to witness all that happened. It wasn’t all death. Racism is more than that. Racism can be simple indifference and uncaring. Canada is still a country that refused a boat load of people fleeing from certain death.
When I did my extensive research when I created “Herr Direktor” for what became the 2003 Best Documentary Oscar Nominated, Prisoner of Paradise, (with a first investment from Steven Spielberg no less) I read and studied that time period intensely. I read Josef Goebbels diary. I saw how intolerance was used to whip up hatred. Racism starts out from uncaring; it grows into indifference, and if unchecked can take us to many places most would never imagine going.
Mr. Thomas and his school board are spending tax dollars on this. They are not really saying it didn’t occur or that Principal Brown is in the right. They are really upset that we covered this story. The other area media hid and didn’t cover it, probably for fears of losing the lush ad dollars spent by the UCDSB in this region. And this was not an isolated incident. There have been other issues at the school including some students showing up in “Black Face”.
The school board and their high priced Toronto lawyers simply want to silence the truth. And they wish to do that on your dime.
Many people that I’ve talked to across the world are shaking their head watching this. A few even suggested that CFN is a small independent newspaper that cannot possibly afford the cost of this lawsuit in Superior Court against a school board with the public’s limitless pockets?
They’re right. I’m busy covering vet bills for my 13 year old dog. She just had cancer surgery and now two more tumors have grown. Can you imagine trying to decide to pay for lawyers or for treatment for your best friend in the world, or the rent? It’s not easy running a small business in Ontario!
I and CFN have defended a lot of people since our inception. It’s something I’ve always been proud of. As a matter of fact nowadays all I usually have to do locally is tell people when they bring me a real problem, is to tell them to relate to their party that if they don’t resolve their issue I’ll investigate and possibly write about it. 99% of the time the problems are solved including an incident of bullying this year at another UCDSB school. That one had a happy ending with the two kids becoming friends. No story was written. The pay off was seeing a mom worried about threats of guns and knives dissipate and her child smile again.
When I was young I remember my grand-aunt. She had numbers tattooed on her arm. I have forever been haunted by the story of her losing her baby in the Auschwitz. Or seeing pictures of family who were murdered during the war; or listening to my own grand-mother, who by chance was chosen to live with her sister in Canada because she was homesick. My grand-mother lived because of that; but her brothers, sisters, and parents didn’t.
Ignoring intolerance and racism is like not treating a disease. It grows.
Most likely I will be forced into some apology because of the weight of tax dollars and fancy Toronto lawyers because frankly I cannot fight this fight on my own. I would if I could; but sadly I can’t. Will the truth have won? The easiest solution would have been for Principal Brown to apologize for her behavior. The reasons why she refused to is why you are reading this.
She and her school board have refused to admit to that basic truth. They are now spending blood money to hide their truth.
In 2014 do you find this acceptable? I know I don’t.
If you wish to contact Mr. Thomas the phone number for him at the school board is 1 800 267 7131 ext. 1234 – his email is firstname.lastname@example.org
I will not be appealing to the public for funds to help any legal costs. I am hoping that a prominent lawyer will step forward and assist in this matter if the school board will not drop its suit and issue an apology to the original victim, myself, and to the public.
In this day and age every penny the school system gets should be spent on educating our children; not lawsuits like this.
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