Living hell

Dear editor:
I have to say that your reporting on the “racist video” incident has been atrocious, and has done a great disservice to not only the six girls and their families but also to the community as a whole.
•The Intent
I am amazed how this video’s intent has been so misconstrued and how these girls have been portrayed to be racists. There was no intent here to hurt anybody; they were 15- and 16-year-old girls who just got carried away.
Those who honestly feel that they purposely set out to hurt anyone must have led a pretty boring life as a teenager.
•The Ritual
A few years back, a pow-wow began in the locker-room before each game to “pump” the girls up. This ritual was the idea of one of their First Nation teammates, who has since left the team. It was never done to offend anyone.
Through the years, this pow-wow has been played out by all teammates, including FN players, as a tool to motivate the team and in team spirit.
The coaching staff was not only aware of this ritual, they also encouraged it to take place. Jack McMaster, director of the RRDSB, was also part of the coaching staff for the Muskie girls’ hockey team.
•The Video Clip
The video clip was done in November at a private gathering (not a Muskie function). The next day, one of the girls uploaded the clip to her Facebook (a website open to only those you invite in). This video clip was viewed by many friends, including FN friends.
Many of the students knew about its existence, yet not one person asked for it to be removed due to its nature. In fact, some of girls’ FN friends joked about it, calling them lousy dancers. One FN friend joked that it wasn’t really a pow-wow because they forgot the bannock!
These friends knew these girls had not intended to hurt anyone.
The clip clearly states the girls were doing the pow-wow to get “pumped” for the party. In the process, their foolishness took over and they got carried away.
I have watched the video repeatedly, and each time I watch it I realize that these girls were only thinking of one thing (the party)—not hatred, not racism as some would have you believe.
•The Crime
Sometime between November and Feb. 14, this video was stolen from Facebook. It was altered and given a title, and at the end of the clip, the names of the six girls scrolled by like you would see when watching a movie.
This altered video then was posted on Google news for the whole world to see by a person(s) whose sole intent was to foster hatred and racism (otherwise why alter the video to begin with).
It also was distributed widely throughout the FN community and various versions were posted on Youtube. It was pulled off Youtube over and over, only to be reposted again and again—why?
There was even a version on Youtube that included a clear and undistorted still photo of each of the girls at the end of the video.
•Healing
The girls have apologized at their school, as well as within their community. They have met a FN counsellor, a well-respected FN elder, and have attended two healing circles and will attend two more.
All of this was set up by the girls and their parents. The school and Mr. McCabe have had no involvement in setting up any of these meetings.
I am appalled at FFHS principal Mr. McCabe’s knee-jerk reaction to this whole situation. He should have taken the time to realize that this was not a “racist” video, but a clear case of young teenagers showing poor judgment.
Racism is a practice or belief. This was not a “practice” and if you knew these girls, you would know that they do not believe in racism. Many of their friends are FN and some even have native relatives.
These girls have endured a tremendous amount of pain. They have received death threats; they have been assaulted, elbowed, and shoved in the corridor of their school. Some of the e-mails and messages they have received are so extremely hateful and vulgar I cannot reprint them.
They are no longer playing hockey, thus their team also has been punished for their actions. It goes without saying that their families have been devastated, as well.
These girls do not deserve the hell that they are living. They are good students and before this day had never made a racial slur to anyone. Even hardened criminals receive better treatment than these girls have received.
It is hard to believe the pure hatred that exists within some people.
Signed,
Grahame Deverinne