DAWSON CREEK, B.C. — A parent in Dawson Creek is concerned about what she alleges is School District 59’s slow response to threats that were made against her child and their fellow students earlier this Spring.
Energeticcity.ca received an email on June 20th from a woman whose child attends Dawson Creek Secondary School’s South Peace Campus. In her email, the woman described a sequence of events that began on March 15th, when she said the school was notified about what she referred to as a “hit list” with the names of eight DCSS students, one of which was her child. According to the woman, the student that wrote up the list intended to shoot the aforementioned students during a school shooting. She said that it wasn’t until April 12th that the RCMP informed her about the incident, saying that her child was in danger.
The woman said in her email that a week and a half after being informed of the situation, a meeting was held with the students named on the list, their parents, DCSS Principal Paul Chisholm, SD 59 District Principal Mike Readman, school councillors, a mental health representative, and a member of the RCMP. During the meeting, the woman said she was informed that the student that allegedly drew up the list would not be attending the school for the rest of the year, and that the parents would be updated about the situation.
According to the email, on June 19th DCSS Principal Chisholm had asked the students on the list if they wanted to meet with the student that allegedly wrote the list for reconciliation purposes. This was also, according to the email, the same day that charges were laid against the youth in question.
The woman said that contrary to what she was told, two months had elapsed since that meeting and no update had been given to parents about the situation. However, she stated that no-one from the school district had asked her child, who she said was terrrified, about their wellbeing or how they would make them feel safe at school again.
“My child will have to enter school next year, terrified. And no one will know. We were told to keep quiet, but parents should know. They should be outraged,” the email stated. “This issue needs attention. It’s not the only one. These schools keep burying it and the victims are left to suffer.”
School District 59’s assistant superintendent Candice Clouthier said that the school district has a Violent Threat Risk Assessment or VITRA Program, which guides staff on how to respond to any situation where students could be at risk of harm. She said that the school district consults with a team of experts including police, officials with the Ministry of Education, and with the Ministry of Children and Family Development in order to first ensure that all parties involved are safe. “If we believe that there is a risk to students, either self or others, we respond immediately,” said Clouthier. She added that officials will continue to examine the situation if new information becomes available, and will continue to oversee the response to the situation.
When asked about the details of the email, Clouthier confirmed that the school’s principal was informed about the list of names on March 15th, though she was not able to provide the number of names on the list. She also confirmed that the principal asked all students involved to meet for reconciliation purposes, though she was not able to confirm if the meeting took place. When asked why no update was given to parents after a period of two months, Clouthier stated that, “Sometimes things move slowly. Part of our protocol is to meet with affected parties, and so we do do that. If anything changes, we will meet with people beyond that.”
When asked about the RCMP’s response to the situation, North District RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Madonna Saunderson stated that she had spoken to the officer in charge of the investigation, who told her that no information would be released regarding the situation, as the case is before the courts. According to Prosecution Services of B.C. spokesperson Dan McLaughlin, the youth, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is not facing criminal charges. Instead, the youth is facing an application by Crown Council to be placed on a recognizance under Section 810 of the Criminal Code.