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

Some bystanders with fire extinguishers helped keep the fire under control. Photo courtesy Suzie Thomas
Bystanders keep fire from spreading near McIvor Lake turnoff

‘Just be vigilant and careful,’ says Campbell River fire chief

The Pier Street Farmers Market will once again take up residence on Sundays from May to Septmber at the parking lot across from the Community Centre in downtown Campbell River for 2021. Mirror File Photo
Pier Street Farmers Market returns to Cedar Street parking lot for 2021

…and it’s hoped that the addition of artisans this year will make it even better

Some recommendations from the Downtown Safety Select Committee have been approved by Campbell River City Council, including removing the glass stage covering at Spirit Square. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Council going ahead with removing Spirit Square stage covering

But mayor acknowledges need for ‘welcoming, warm place with support services’

A small fire on North Rendezvous Island is the first wildfire of the season in the Campbell River area. Officials are asking people to take caution when burning during these dry conditions. BC Wildfire Dashboard
‘Conditions are tricky at the moment’ warns Coastal Fire Centre

Small fire on North Rendezvous Island first of the season for Campbell River area

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Island woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop of Comox says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read