Premier Rachel Notley took the words right out of my mouth.
This week, let’s remember the two young students — Thomas Gower and Ursella Khan — who stood their ground against the so-called concerned parents at the anti-immigrant circus show at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School.
On this otherwise head-shaking day in Red Deer, their courage should be remembered.
Tuesday’s protest was sparked after a high school scuffle between Syrian and Canadian students caught on video was shared on social media.
Last Friday, a reader had sent the video to the Advocate. To me it looked like a typical dust up between students. What raised my eyebrows were the ridiculous comments attached to the video — Syrian students attacking Canadian students and the like.
I called Bruce Buruma at Red Deer Public Schools to gain some context on the situation. He explained there was a school fight and all students involved were disciplined. After talking to Buruma, I concluded this was a non-story.
Little did I know, the next day, the district would be forced to send out a release refuting claims that the fight was racially motivated and special treatment was given to Syrian students.
“We are concerned that the incident is being elevated because of the backgrounds of the students and that is not right. This does not represent the care and concern for diversity that the students, staff and parents within the Lindsay Thurber school community take great pride in,” read the statement.
The video, sadly, had caught the attention of the anti-everything groups, trolls and the Calgary-based National Advancement Party of Canada, a far-right nationalist group.
Suddenly a maelstrom of hatred fuelled the anti-immigrant sentiment and gave legs to a non-event at a high school in Red Deer.
They put their fear mongering/racially-charged spin on a simple school fight that started because of a miscommunication and language barrier.
Over night “concerned parents” supposedly organized a demonstration near the school to protest the unfair treatment of their children who were being beat up by Syrian gangs and female students were being groped.
I doubt there were more than two parents out of the estimated 40 protesters who waved racist signs, uttered pure nonsense and heckled Khan as she addressed the media before leaving the school.
Khan told reporters that education is the key to help people like (the protesters).
What better place to do it than at a school?
Gower, who is now famous for his sign that read, No More Hate, No More Fear. Refugees are welcome here, also braved the cold to support Red Deer’s Muslim community after the mosque shooting in Sainte-Foy, Que. killed six men and wounded 19 in February.
More students, more people like Gower, need to speak up to drown out the overwhelming racist and rednecks that thrive on social media and come to our towns and city to spread lies and hatred.
Red Deer, or Alberta, for that matter isn’t this ugly.
We have a tremendous community of do-gooders who will drop everything to lend a helping hand to those in need.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did the right thing when he welcomed the Syrian refugees (and all refugees for that matter) that were fleeing for their lives. (Truly I would be embarrassed to call myself Canadian, had our country closed our borders)
The fear mongering from these ridiculous clowns did nothing but make the students at Lindsay Thurber feel unsafe.
Thankfully RCMP Supt. Ken Foster was well aware of the situation and his team nearly outnumbered the protesters. Where else can a friendly soccer game break out between students of all stripes and the RCMP but in Canada?
Social media’s evil faction easily blew the situation out of proportion and gave life to fake news. It brought outsiders into our community to invoke fear and raise concerns.
Thankfully Red Deerians aren’t so gullible.
Crystal Rhyno is the managing editor of the Red Deer Advocate. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org