We can learn

It’s been most interesting monitoring the discussion regarding the video of six girls from Fort Frances High School and the furor they have caused.
Today Canada is a multicultural nation. In Toronto, even being from white European ancestry no longer puts you in the majority. All cultures are a minority today in that city.
I put that in context to the story that ran in Friday’s Daily Bulletin which seemed to break around 10:30 a.m. The story was written quickly to make the paper, with most officials in meetings and discussions and unavailable for comment.
The first web comment on the story arrived from Thunder Bay before the paper even was printed on the press. The story had been uploaded to the web prior to the paper reaching the press.
A half-hour later, in the time the paper was finished being printed here in Fort Frances, the Times already had comments from Winnipeg, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, and Fort Frances.
The word and information spread that rapidly.
The six girls, and everyone who has read the story, will understand today that the web reaches far and wide—and that what is placed on the web is open for interpretation by anyone.
The act of foolishness and insensitivity will be remembered long after the young ladies graduate. The video and their foolishness will follow them as they seek to go to colleges and eventually apply for employment.
It will forever be part of their record.
In Canadian courts of law, minors cannot be named. It is the law. But the six girls forfeited their anonymity when they agreed to participate in the video. Once it was posted to the web, it created a life of its own.
It can never be corralled again. Copies will last forever.
The consequences of their actions are many. They have let their fellow students down. They probably have embarrassed their families. By their actions, all of the hard work by coaches and fellow teammates to win the regional girls’ hockey championship may be lost.
They have fractured the community.
I know in moderating the discussion that I have had to evaluate the comments against my own beliefs in hope I do nothing to inflame an already difficult situation at Fort Frances High School and within the communities of Rainy River District.
From many of the comments, I have learned that anger, frustration, and hurt lie just below the surface of many aboriginal people of the district. I have learned of the hurts and snubs that many have suffered in their lives, and how the actions of those young girls has taken that simmering pot to a boiling point.
If any one of the comments is accurate, the decision by the First Nation chiefs to withdraw their students was a wise one in that it has created a cooling off period—allowing students to get their emotions under control and giving educators, parents, and community leaders time to prepare a program to begin talking and speaking to cultural tolerance.
As a community, we can learn from this incident. We have to understand that in the district, we are not some 25 silos of people, but one community sharing facilities, the environment, and hoping to create dreams and opportunities for our youth.

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