May 26, 2017 8:18 pm
Updated: May 27, 2017 4:18 pm

‘Cowboys and Indians’-themed grad party draws reaction from Lethbridge school and students

In an attempt to combat racism at Chinook High School, staff held an assembly after learning of graduating students participating in so-called “Cowboys and Indians” themed parties. Joe Scarpelli reports.

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An emergency assembly was held at a Lethbridge high school this week to address a reported “Cowboys and Indians”-themed graduation party held by students.

Photos from a party are circulating on social media and have drawn accusations of racism from some members of Lethbridge’s aboriginal community, including one student who said he didn’t even know his peers were doing this.

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When Peyton Weasel Head came home from school Thursday afternoon, his uncle Seven Quesnelle noticed his nephew was upset.

“I asked him what was wrong and he told me, ‘I think my school is racist,'” Quesnelle said.

Weasel Head is 15 years old and goes to Chinook High School. Staff called a surprise school-wide assembly Thursday after learning about some Grade 12 students throwing at least one “Cowboys and Indians”- themed grad party. It was the first time Weasel Head heard about it.

“I didn’t even know grad week was a thing because I’m kind of just a freshman,” he said. “This stuff is very traditional to us and they’re mocking us and everything, it’s not right.”

“It’s racist, it’s flat-out racist,” Quesnelle said.

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According to Lethbridge School District 51, the party or parties were private functions that the school was not involved with. It issued a statement following the emergency assembly.

“The staff and students at Chinook talked about how important it is to be publicly involved in this deep discussion of First Nations racism taking place over social media, news media and the community at large,” the statement read in part.

“It’s 2017, racism should be dealt with already,” Weasel Head said.

His uncle’s advice for dealing with racism is to never turn to violence or fight back with racism itself.

“Speak up though,” Quesnelle said. “If you’re offended by something or something’s going on, don’t be afraid to say something, get it out there, that’s the only way it’s going to stop.”

Global News has reached out to Lethbridge School District 51 to see if any disciplinary action will be taken.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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