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Montreal, March 28, 2013 --- In what would be an important opportunity for the courts to speak out against race-based bullying in schools, the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission is taking the case of a female Black student who was bullied and assaulted by two white female students to the province’s Human Rights Tribunal.

The victim, Audrey (not her real name), was a fourteen-year-old anglophone student who moved to the municipality of Saint-Constant, a small town outside Montreal, and went to a predominantly French-speaking high school that belongs the Commission scolaire des Grandes-Seigneuries. Throughout the 2009-2010 school year, AUDREY experienced numerous incidents of harassment and bullying on based race and gender in school.

On June 15, 2010, Audrey was at the bus stop after school when she was cornered by several white female students who verbally and physically intimidated her. Audrey called her mother, a health care professional, who rushed to school with her son. On the way to the school, the mother could hear over the phone her daughter being called the N word and a girl taunting her daughter, in English, with, “I’m a gangster, I’m a N-r S-t.” Mother and son arrived in front of the school, where Audrey was involved in a fight with the two white girls.

In addition to being called the N word as well as the B word (in English, although the two white girls are French-speaking), Audrey was also threatened by one white girl who said, “you’re going to see what’s going to happen to you.” Audrey was almost hit by one of the white girls who lunged at her with a scooter helmet; fortunately, the mother, was walking with her, stopped the assault and took the helmet away. The police arrived at the scene, but did not make any arrest and take into consideration the racist elements of the incident.

Upon arriving at the scene, the school principal blamed Audrey for the fight, telling the mother that her daughter was “no angel.” He proceeded to suspend the victim for three days, resulting in Audrey to experience hardship with her exams. It is not sure if the other two students were suspended as well.

After the June 15 incident, Audrey also received text messages that included dead threats. Thereafter, a police complaint was filed, but the police merely warned the sender of these messages to stop and did not charge him or her.

In September 2010, CRARR filed a civil rights complaint against the two girls and their parents for violation of Audrey’s civil rights, and another complaint against the school board for failure to protect her from discrimination and harassment and for discriminatory sanctions. It also made representations to the office of the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecution following the police’s refusal to press charges against those who assaulted Audrey and made death threats against her.

In June 2012, the human rights commission upheld the complaint against the two girls and their parents, requiring them to pay $5,000 each to B.O, for a total of $10,000. As both parents failed to heed the commission’s order, the case is brought by the commission to the Human Rights Tribunal. The complaint against the school board is still under investigation.

What is noteworthy is that in their defense, the girls made allegations that further perpetuate racial stereotypes of Black persons. One girl stated that upon arriving at the scene, Audrey’s brother provoked the fight and told others to call their “brothers, uncles, cousins, [I would fight them all]” and that he had been to prison and was ready to go back. One girl also alleged that Audrey’s mother said during the incident that “we’re not in Jamaica.” Both accounts were firmly rebuked by Audrey’s family for their complete “far-fetched inconsistency with the truth.”

The Tribunal’s hearing will be held later this year and open to the public.