Fondé en 1983 --Unis pour la diversité et l'égalité raciale


Montreal, July 23, 2012 --- With CRARR’s help, a young Black girl has been found a victim of race-based harassment, assault and intimidation in a school on Montréal’s South Shore and awarded $10,000 in damages by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.

In Fall 2009, A.M., then 14, was bullied on a number of occasions, suffering verbal and physical assault due to her race and gender, at a school in Saint-Constant that is part of the Des Grandes Seigneuries school board. She was also called a “bitch” and “nègre” on a number of occasions as well as the victim of offensive and demeaning messages on her Facebook wall. She also received threatening letters, among other incidents.

In June 2010, as A.M. was walking to the bus stop on her way home, some white girls approached her and called her a “bitch.” This was followed by other racial slurs, including repeated use of the N-word, in front of other students. She was also beaten. On hearing name-calling and shouting over her daughter’s phone, A.M.’s mother drove with her son to the scene of the incident. As they tried to protect her from the verbal and physical assault, A.M. and her mother were almost hit with a scooter helmet by a white female student.

The police arrived at the scene but did not press charges. Even after her mother filed a police complaint, no charges were laid against the white girls. In the meantime, A.M. was suspended for three days by the principal who blamed her for having contributed to the attack (It is unclear who else was suspended and for how long). Several days later, A.M. received text messages threatening physical harm. The family reported these messages to the police but, again, no charges were made against the authors, despite their phone numbers being clearly intercepted.

Feeling that the school did not properly address the racial harassment and hate-motivated violence directed at her daughter, A.M.’s mother mandated CRARR to file a civil rights complaint against the school board for failing to take effective measures to protect her daughter. A second complaint was also filed against the two girls who assaulted A.M. and called her the N-word during the incident.

It is perhaps interesting to note that although the aggressors and the school are French-speaking, A.M. was called the N-word in English during the assault. One white girl even yelled at her: “I’m a gangster. I’m a N- s-t.” Another white girl subsequently claimed that when she arrived at the scene of the incident, A.M.’s mother took one of the girls’ scooter helmets and tried to hit one of them with it, This girl also claimed that the mother encouraged A.M. to hit other students and that A.M.’s brother beat one of the girls’ brothers while bragging that he had been in prison and would have no problem going back.

The school board’s defense reiterated the girls’ claims, especially concerning the brother’s prison past and the mother beating other girls with the scooter helmet. These versions were all flatly denied by A.M. and her family as being completely fabricated hearsay.

At the end of June 2012, the Human Rights Commission notified the parties that it has sufficient evidence of discrimination and that the two girls’ families must pay A.M. $10,000 in moral damages by July 27, 2012. Failure to comply will lead to the case being referred to the Human Rights Tribunal. No decision has yet been announced regarding the complaint against the School Board.

“This is a very important milestone in confronting race-based bullying and violence in Quebec schools,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi.

“The case contains typical elements of racial harassment and assault in public schools: denial that racism was involved; blaming the victim of bullying for being herself the bully; and perpetuating racial stereotypes of Blacks as being violent and “terrorizing” white youths on school property,” he added. “We strongly encourage all youths who are victims of bullying, name-calling, assault and threats to stand up for their civil rights.”