Pride flag burned at Kitchener, Ontario high school, police investigating ‘hate-driven’ incident

Pride flag burned at Kitchener, Ontario high school, police investigating ‘hate-driven’ incident
Pride flag burned at Kitchener, Ontario high school, police investigating ‘hate-driven’ incident

Police are investigating after a group of teenagers took a Pride flag from a Kitchener, Ontario high school, stood on it and set it on fire, in what police are calling a “hate incident.”

On Thursday, a group of 15- to 17-year-olds took the flag from Eastwood Collegiate Institute (ECI), Waterloo Regional Police reported Friday. Police were unable to say where in the school the flag was before it was taken.

They said the flag was trampled and burned in the area of ​​Weber Street East and Jackson Avenue, an intersection near the school.

No physical injuries have been reported.

School board takes incident ‘very seriously’

The Waterloo District School Board released a statement Friday morning saying it was “deeply saddened and concerned.”

“We want parents, families and the broader community to know that we take this incident very seriously,” the statement said. “We would like to thank WRPS for their support and will continue to work with them and community partners to support the safety of our community.

“As a school district, we are committed to the safety of our students and to creating and maintaining identity-affirming learning environments where everyone feels safe and experiences a sense of belonging for all members of our community.”

The board indicated that it did not wish to comment further, as the police investigation concerns students.

Actions ‘will not be tolerated’: main

Eastwood Collegiate Principal Ryan Hume sent an email to parents that was obtained by CBC News. The school board confirmed the email was authentic.

Hume wrote in the email that rocks may also have been thrown at students who identify as LGBTQ as they boarded the bus.

“I want to acknowledge that while all students and staff at Eastwood may be affected by these violent and hateful actions, it is especially damaging to members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. I want to reassure every member of the ECI community that we take this event very seriously.”

Hume also noted that members of the school board’s critical event response team would be at the school on Friday to provide support to students and staff.

“As a result of this incident, we are reminded of the importance of educating Eastwood students about historical and contemporary examples of hate and violence against 2SLGBTQIA+ people, and the importance of supporting all students who have been harmed by hate speech or other forms of intolerance,” Hume said in his email.

“All students, families and community members have the right to feel safe in their school environment. These types of actions will not be tolerated.”

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact police at 519-570-9777.