Statement from Hon. Natalie Jameson
Hon. Natalie Jameson, Minister of Education and Lifelong Learning issued the following statement:
“The last few days have been difficult ones for our community, in particular our students and staff at East Wiltshire. I felt it was important to take the time to listen and better understand what happened and how I can make it better. I thank the many students, parents, school staff, and allies that have reached out to me since Friday.
While I wholeheartedly believe that our education system devotes itself to the safety and well-being of our school community, when one person feels unsafe, we have failed and must make every effort to do better. For anyone hurting, I am deeply sorry.
We do not tolerate homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, racism or bullying. We have to ensure that students and staff can recognize these actions when they occur, know when they should speak up and feel safe in doing so.
An independent, third-party investigation into the events that occurred at East Wiltshire Intermediate School is being led by Evelyn Bradley. This investigation and its recommendations will help us in supporting students and staff not only at East Wiltshire but across our education system. Through meaningful consultation with students, teachers and administrators, it is my hope that this process will provide insight to make necessary changes to any systemic issues that exist.
Since Monday, the Public Schools Branch has been on the ground to support students and staff. More counselling support has been made available to students at the school and I encourage any student or family who is struggling to reach out for help.
Today, I met with PEERS Alliance and Pride PEI and we have agreed to meet again in the coming weeks once the independent investigation is complete. We are working together to review the resource materials in place to further increase education and understanding of gender diversity and inclusion. We will continue to strengthen these partnerships and continue to seek their advice and expertise both in the short term and for long-term planning.
From me to you, as the Minister of Education, I sincerely apologize to each of you for the stress and anxiety this situation has caused. It is my sincere desire to ensure our schools are safe, happy, and productive places for children to learn and grow. We cannot achieve this if all students do not feel safe.
If any student across our province is struggling and requires immediate support, please reach out for help. If you do not feel comfortable reaching out to your family or school, please call the Kids Helpline at 1 800 668 6868 or the Youth Project at 902 429 5429.
I promise you now to do whatever is necessary to help address the systemic issues that caused last week’s events.”
Department of Education and Lifelong Learning