Chilliwack, B.C., RCMP took the unusual step Wednesday of confirming that books in the community’s school libraries do not, in fact, contain child pornography.
The announcement, detailed in a media release, came after the detachment received a complaint that written publications in the schools allegedly contained child porn.
While the allegation may sound outlandish, the RCMP took the complaint seriously, assigning an investigator with the detachment’s Serious Crime Section to look into the matter.
After a review of the books containing the “most concerning material” identified by the complainant, the RCMP said the content did not meet the definition of child pornography under the Criminal Code of Canada.
“This is a serious allegation and one that caused many parents great concern in our community,” Chilliwack RCMP Sgt. Krista Vrolyk said in the release.
“Police have a duty to investigate these allegations but it became clear to the investigator who has years of experience in investigating Child Pornography offences, that, while the material may be deemed inappropriate or concerning to some people, it does not constitute Child Pornography.”
The release came a day after Chilliwack School Trustee Heather Maahs posted to Facebook to say a member of the group Action4Canada had filed a complaint with Chilliwack Mounties.
Global News has requested comment from Maahs about the incident and whether she supported taking concerns of this matter to police.
In an email Thursday, Action4Canada Founder Tanya Gaw said she was “very disappointed, but not surprised” by the RCMP’s conclusion.
“Although I had kept the filing of the complaint private and not public, it was interesting how quickly the decision made it onto the 6 p.m. news,” she said.
“This tells me that this is a highly politicized matter and that it is not being addressed in a manner that puts the well-being of our children as top priority.”
Gaw pointed to a list of books her group was concerned about, including It’s Perfectly Normal, a multiple-award winning book about puberty and sexual health aimed at youth aged 10 and up, All Boys Aren’t Blue, an LGBTQ2 coming-of-age story by Black journalist and activist George M. Johnson, and The Bluest Eye, by Nobel Prize in Literature-winning Black author Toni Morrison.
She said the group was also against the novel Identical by Ellen Hopkins, available in some Chilliwack high school libraries, that addresses the sexual assault of a girl by her father.
Action4Canada’s website lists a number of target issues including COVID-19 vaccine mandates, “political LGBTQ activism,” critical race theory and 5G technology.
One post on the group’s website from July describes the Canadian government as “domestic terrorists” who are “radicalizing Canadian children and youth through the education system and using them as ‘Agents of Change’ to advance a global agenda to deconstruct societal norms.”
A report by the Chilliwack Progress last summer, however, may shed some light on the incident.
The paper detailed heated debate at the school board over the book All Boys Aren’t Blue, an LGBTQ2 coming-of-age story by Black journalist and activist George M. Johnson.
The paper quoted Maahs as taking issue with the book because “it desensitizes kids and it’s all in the name of LGBTQ because it’s boy on boy, and I’m talking young boys being depicted in stories with things I’ve never even heard of.”
The same article reported Chilliwack School Board Chair Willow Reichelt had allegedly received two emails threatening to report her to the RCMP.
In an email, Reichelt said the district continues to choose age-appropriate learning resources based on its publicly-available Learning Resources Policy, adding the result of the RCMP investigation was expected.
“The results of the RCMP investigation are unsurprising,” she said.
“Any suggestion that there is child pornography in our classrooms is now (and has always been) defamatory.”
Meanwhile, another Fraser Valley school district took explicit aim at Action4Canada Tuesday night, passing a motion to ban the group from school board meetings for a year.
In an email, board chair Shelley Carter said the ban stemmed from a presentation by an Action4Canada delegation at a Jan. 10 meeting.
At that meeting, the group failed to follow presentation procedures, projected a screen with “hateful and disturbing information,” and “acted in a deliberate and misleading manner to present something that violated the School District values,” she said.
“We passed the motion, as Mission Public Schools are inclusive, diverse, and accepting,” Carter added.
“We expect all groups to be respectful of all persons when presenting. This type of group with a platform that is full of misinformation and wants to present hateful propaganda, leads to a ban. We want all students, parents and the staff to feel safe when attending our meetings.”
Gaw said she would address the decision of the Mission School District next week.
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