Bullying concerns on Piapot First Nation

REGINA — One grandmother wants to do what she can to end bullying in her community.

“I don’t want things to get swept under the carpet,” said Rena Whitestar. “I want that carpet burned. I want people to get together and burn that carpet.”

She said her five-year-old grandson was the victim of a bullying incident at Payepot School on the Piapot First Nation by a classmate.

Whitestar said she would like to see anti-bullying programs implemented at the school and more supervision for the children to avoid future incidents.

Hazel Ahenekew, principal of Payepot School, said all incidents are dealt with immediately — especially bullying.

She said a talking circle was held to address the issue shortly after the incident occurred.

Ahenekew said there is no anti-bullying policy in place, but all staff are professionals who have been trained to deal with sensitive issues, like bullying. She said the staff at the school are there because they care about the well-being of the children.

She said the staff is only able to do so much without parental support and would like to have more parents get involved with the school.

Ahenekew said she has tried to establish a parent’s supervision group at the school but without success.

“It takes a community to raise a child,” she said.

Lorne Carrier, education portfolio holder for Piapot, said the on-reserve school is like any other school in the province and in-school incidents are handled accordingly.

He said bullying is an issue every school has to deal with and Payepot is no different.

“We are concerned about our children like everybody else,” he said.

Whitestar has pulled her two grandsons out of school and does not plan on sending them back until something is done to address the bullying issue.

RCMP spokesman Sgt. Craig Cleary confirmed the Southey RCMP Detachment received a call about the incident on Sept. 19.

He said the RCMP worked directly with the school and did contact Yorkton Tribal Council’s Child and Family Services about the matter.

Cleary said he could not confirm the details of the child’s injuries, but said the file is closed.

He said in such situations like this, it’s more of an educational issue.

“We try to work with the parents, as well as the schools, if they are school-aged and try to better educate them better on what their behaviour is. And is it bullying? Is it a form of bullying? And make them aware that it can be emotionally damaging as well as physically damaging for the victim of the bullying,” said Cleary. “Sometimes it may not be clearly understood by the person doing the bullying.”

Carrier said he’s glad the RCMP contacted YTCCFS, because it’s an agency with professionals that are trained to deal with such situations.

“The children will get the counselling they need and the families can get any kind of help they need,” he said.

Carrier said both children have not returned to school since the incident, which has made it difficult for the school to deal with this particular matter.

He hopes that with counselling everything can be resolved and both children will be able to return to school.

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