A 13-year-old Cochrane, Alta., student is recovering from “severe mental and emotional trauma” after an incident that’s being described by a local Indigenous group as a “life-threatening attack” outside of a school last week.
Reconciliation Action Group (RAG) says the incident occurred last Thursday, Sept. 21, on the grounds outside St. Timothy School after school was let out for the weekend.
The student’s mother, whom Global News has agreed to refer to as Jessica for safety reasons, tells us that her son, an Indigenous Grade 8 student was “swarmed” and attacked by about a dozen teenage male students believed to be between 15 and 17 years of age.
“They viciously beat the student,” she says.
“(They) brandished a broken stick as a weapon, as well as placed the student in a choke hold until he began to lose consciousness and was unable to breathe,” Jessica described.
A release from RAG describes the incident in more detail, stating the child’s attackers “at one point turned him upside down while beating him.”
Jessica is an outspoken advocate for the Indigenous community who stands up for Indigenous rights, and believes the motivation behind the attack was hate and “getting at the victim’s family.”
Michelle Robinson with RAG believes the reason why the child was attacked was because of who the child’s mother is and what she stands for.
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“I think that a lot of folks feel a lot more threatened than we recognize in this moment,” says Robinson.
“I think that we have to recognize that while truth is really important, for a lot of folks they’re not ready for truth,” she adds
Robinson says the history between Indigenous groups and the Catholic church is controversial and complicated. She said it’s this past that is the very reason why the Catholic board should be doing more in terms of reconciliation.
“Because of the structure and fundamentalism when it comes to religious indoctrination and what had happened with the Indian residential school system,” she says.
“There needs to be double the effort to try and undo the harm that was caused and instead we’re seeing our children being attacked within that system.”
In a statement, the Calgary Catholic School District says it is “deeply saddened to learn about this incident.”
The statement goes on to say that the board is “committed to creating safe, welcoming, and caring environments at all its 118 schools for over 61,000 students. Indigenous education is one of our four board priorities, and CCSD is committed to embracing and supporting our Indigenous students’ success and belonging. we are very proud of how our school communities continue to work intentionally and walk together to foster reconciliation.”
A spokesperson with the RCMP could only tell Global News that officers are investigating the incident, but no further information could be shared at this time as the investigation is in its early stages.
At this time Jessica doesn’t know when or if her son will return to St. Timothy School.
“That’s still to be determined,” she says.
“Trust has been broken and the victim does not feel safe to return under any circumstances right now.”