Facebook comments bring unwanted attention

How a Winnipeg high school teacher added to Winnipeg’s racism problem

Late in 2014, Kelvin High School teacher Brad Badiuk was found to have made offensive comments towards First Nations people on Facebook. His Facebook post referenced the book “The Comeback” by John Ralston Saul - a book explaining how mending the relationship between First Nations people and non-Indigenous Canadians was the key to a better country.

Badiuk’s opinions were quite different than Ralston Saul’s, and were expressed in a racist way.

“Oh my Goddd how long are aboriginal people going to use what happened as a crutch to suck more money out of Canadians?” is an example of one of his posts, but Badiuk didn’t stop there. He also targeted Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of First Nations.

It didn’t take long for Badiuk’s comments to be seen by the Grand Chief himself. Badiuk was first suspended from his job with paid leave in December of 2014, but as of the New Year is on unpaid leave. At the moment, Badiuk is still being investigated by the Winnipeg School Division and could possibly be fired from his position if the school board sees fit.

Although Badiuk aired his opinions away from his professional duties as a teacher, there is no excuse or justification for what he said. His comments were absolutely unacceptable and he should have known better than to have made them. No one in this country or this city should be made to feel like they don’t belong. Imagine how someone would feel to hear these kinds of racist remarks being made about themselves, especially from a teacher who is supposed to be setting a positive example for a new generation.

Comments like Badiuk’s don’t help anyone and they cause immense pain to many.

Unfortunately, this story - like incidences of racism that came before - won’t stop some people from saying racist things. Yet while racism is still a reality, we can choose how to deal with it.

Though the attention Badiuk’s comments received reflects negatively on Winnipeg, the ensuing reaction has shown that many people in our city will not tolerate racism. The response to his posts and the firm resolve of many Winnipeggers to fight back against the racism present in our city is a sign for hope.

This hope is part of a growing realization that we are all human beings deserving of respect and that we need to start learning to understand one another, rather than discriminating based on false and hurtful beliefs.

Patricia Navidad is a first year Rhetoric, Writing and Communications student and travel enthusiast.

Published in Volume 69, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 11, 2015)

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