Sweater Split

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You don’t even want to see what we had before.

You don’t even want to see what we had before.

How a sweater became the centre of a controversy

Article: Brady Lang – Sports Writer

This phrase has been garnering much attention in the news lately due to a girl at Balcarres Community School, the high school I graduated from in June of 2013. I don’t think that there could be anyone else out there who could actually understand Balcarres Community School other than a former student.

The demographics of the school are about 65% Aboriginal students while the Caucasian population at the school is much in the minority. The thing about Balcarres Community School is that we are a very tight-knit group. All races are put together and students and staff are very comfortable with each other, yet this report from the media construed what the school has been preaching and practicing for many years: working together.

Personally, I’ve seen these sweaters around school daily in the last two years. It really never bothered me, but I knew that other students didn’t exactly agree with the wording on the sweaters. “Thank an Indian” was the phrase that set everyone off. First of all, Indian is a derogatory term and I don’t believe it should have been used on the sweater, yet the context of the phrase wouldn’t have made the same impact if the sweaters sported “Thank an Aboriginal.”

To further the point, the sweater wearer in question said “[w]e were taught Indians were on this land first, so why are people offended?” to CBC in an interview.

The treaties have also been understood to say that the land was to be equally shared, not owned outright by either side. So, what sparked the sweater that garnered all of the attention and controversy last week?

The student was told she could not wear the sweater at school anymore.

The clientele at the school is very mixed, yet Balcarres Community School has been able to look past differences in recent years and begin to work together, seeing through colour rather than judging based on race or ethnicity.

Balcarres Community School has done wonders for their students in recent memory with really setting a standard as the school that doesn’t see colour and works together as equals. In the past few years, the students in the school have done numerous projects including writing a book, interviewing and creating posters for positive Aboriginal role models within the community, and, this year, introducing a book on treaties written by the students.

I’ve seen firsthand what has gone on in this school and it killed me hearing all of the negative talk coming from my old school in the past week. It has upset me and this story has blown up just because of the context of that very same story. Take it from someone that knows: this isn’t who the school really is. Are we really going to be split apart because of something a sweater says?

Image: Farron Ager

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