Joe Whitbread and Jo Phillips are helping children and parents navigate the world of social media. (Photo contributed)

Joe Whitbread and Jo Phillips are helping children and parents navigate the world of social media. (Photo contributed)

Dance cancelled after Alberta teacher’s climate lesson prompts online threats

School district near Red Deer cancelled annual family dance due to Facebook comments

The oil and gas sector were at the heart of a debate that led to the cancellation of a central Alberta school’s family dance.

Jayson Lovell, the superintendent for the Wolf Creek Public Schools district, said it started last week out with comments on a community Facebook page that questioned a lesson taught by a teacher at Iron Ridge Intermediate Campus in Blackfalds, just outside of Red Deer.

A parent believed the teacher was espousing anti-oil and gas values to a Grade 4 social studies class, Lovell said in an interview with Black Press Media, and only presented one side of the story.

The posts began with comments on both sides of the issues, he said, then escalated.

“It went to threats: Go to the school and the dance, which was planned for Thursday evening, and confront the teacher and cause a disturbance.”

As a result, the district cancelled the school’s annual Christmas family dance.

“Please know that this was not an easy decision, as we know the excitement students and families have for this event, and the value it carries in the school,” Lovell wrote in a letter posted online.

“But through events that unfolded throughout the week, the safety of students and staff at the event became uncertain, forcing us to make that ultimate decision.”

The RCMP got involved and issued a ticket under the School Act for disturbing or interrupting the proceedings of a school, Lovell said in the interview.

He went on to add that an administrator had happened to sit in on that lesson, which was about critical thinking on the issue of climate change and the energy sector, and that the teacher covered both sides of the topic, as laid out in the curriculum.

Coincidentally, the district had scheduled a session this week for parents and kids on digital citizenship and online safety.

The host, Joe Whitbread, co-founder of Jo(e) Social Media, said kids are losing out in the wars parents are waging online.

“Our kids are watching their mentors, the adults in their life, use foul language, poor etiquette and be downright unkind on social media,” he said. “It’s a fight, not a debate.”

READ MORE: Youth to sue Canadian government for climate change harms, discrimination

Attendance at the social media sessions is typically poor, he added.

“There are typically 12 to 25 parents, predominantly moms, very few fathers. That’s a very low number in a gymnasium with 300 to 500 kids.”

Lovell said the district is hoping to host the family dance in the new year.

ALSO READ: Federal laws at heart of western anger up for debate as Liberals begin outreach



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother missing for four weeks

The Great Bear Snowshed on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack testified in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Feb. 25, 2021 that his brakes started smoking in about this location, and soon after he lost all braking, which led to a multi-vehicle crash further down the road on Aug. 5, 2016. (GoogleMaps)
Truck driver charged in Coquihalla crash showed ‘wanton and reckless disregard for other people’s lives’: Crown

Despite already having brake issues, Roy McCormack tackled the steepest hill on the infamous highway

Abbotsford International Airport. Black Press file photo.
Abbotsford Airport had 4th highest traffic in Canada in 2020, and its number are down

Statistics Canada report describes a ‘devastating year’ for air travel

(Black Press - file photo)
WEATHER: Enjoy the sun today, prepare for a week of rain

Clouds and rain to arrive by evening, Environment Canada forecasts

Chilliwack’s Ryan Wugalter with his kids, three-year-old Mira and 15-month-old Solomon. Wugalter recently released his children’s album Super Giraffe. (Submitted)
Chilliwack father releases children’s album, songs about superhero giraffe and not eating magnets

Inspiration for Ryan Wugalter’s new album ‘Super Giraffe’ came from his two young kids

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Most Read