Coronach, Sask. boy bullied for Indigenous heritage, family speaks out

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Coronach, Sask. boy bullied for Indigenous heritage, family speaks out
WATCH: A Saskatchewan family is looking for answers, saying their child has been a victim of bullying at school for years. As Erik Bay tells us, they're hoping the conversation improves. – Mar 18, 2024

A Saskatchewan family has turned to the RCMP and FSIN in an attempt to stop the harassment of their 10-year-old son.

Chasity Delorme said her nephew Victor Bear has been bullied relentlessly for five years about his Indigenous heritage.

“Victor is a very kind young man who once had long, beautiful hair and was once proud of his braid,” Delorme said. “Within a year of living in Coronach, it got to the point where he told his mom he was tired of being called Victoria and he wanted to cut his hair.”

Bear asked his mother to cut his braid after years of being bullied about his Indigenous heritage. Photo courtesy of Chasity Delorme

The family moved to Coronach, Sask., a small town south of Moose Jaw near the Montana border, five years ago.

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Bear’s aunt said the 10-year-old boy is a skilled hunter and fisher and knows a lot about farmland but has struggled with bullies.

“It just started to increase in seriousness every year since,” Delorme told Global News. “This last particular incident got very aggressive.”

Just two weeks ago, Delorme said Bear was walking home and was approached by a group of boys from school — the same four that had consistently bullied him for being an Indigenous person.

“He was shoved. And for once, he decided this was enough and he had fought back,” Delorme said.

That’s what Delorme said Bear told his mother and the RCMP.

“It was at that point that the rest of the boys, his peers, attacked him.”

Delorme said Bear was punched and kicked until he had bruises.

His family reported the incident to RCMP and an officer spoke with all the parties involved, according to Delorme.

“My kindhearted, gentle nephew was portrayed as the instigator of the situation,” Delorme said.

All of the students, including Bear, received a warning from RCMP.

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“Generally speaking, if the parties involved are under the age of 12, no charges can be laid,” read a statement from RCMP. “In a situation where no criminality is involved, police may step in to help the parties come to a resolution and ensure everyone is safe.

Bear asked his mother to cut his braid after it became an easy target for bullies. He was also recently diagnosed with insomnia and severe anxiety. Delorme said he begs to be homeschooled and lives in fear.

According to Delorme, conversations with the Prairie South School Division has only brought vague comments about how it will support Bear and his mother.

“There’s been no straight answers. There isn’t enough awareness about cultural diversity and respect.”

Bear’s family decided to go to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations for support.

“Our First Nation children in this province have every right to be at school without abuse that impacts their mental health so much they consider self-harm,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron.

He noted a recent report by the Saskatchewan Coroner’s Service saying Indigenous people constitute 35 per cent of all suicide deaths in the province, despite only making up 17 per cent of the population.

“Schools must embrace diversity, and promoting cultural understanding and acceptance is a must,” Cameron said. “We all have a responsibility to navigate challenging situations and advocate for justice and equality for our children.”

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FSIN said it wants to see the school division enforce their own policies around bullying and anti-racism.

“There are probably 1,000 kids out there going through the same experiences as Victor that don’t have the support,” said 1st Vice-Chief David Pratt.

Bear’s mom Spencer Bisgaard said she wants more communication from the school.

“This is five years of my son having to tolerate what’s going on and it’s not fair to him or any other students in that school.”

There is a meeting between Bear’s family and the school division Tuesday morning. Global News has reached out to the school division for a comment and is awaiting a response.

Click to play video: 'Young people at high risk of online harm: Statistics Canada'
Young people at high risk of online harm: Statistics Canada

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