Arrested parent accuses department of Education of escalating matters at Holy Family School

David MacMartin and Kenechukwu Onwudinjo (Photo Submitted)

Kenechukwu says her child is being targeted rather than being taught.

What began as a lesson about Orange Shirt Day has escalated into the arrest of a young girl’s mother.

Kenechukwu Onwudinjo is the parent of a six-year-old student at Holy Family Elementary School in Porter Creek. She was arrested for violating a trespassing order on April 26 after visiting her child at school the day before. It happened following more than six months of tensions between the parents, school staff, and the Department of Education.

Onwudinjo was arrested at her home two weeks ago after the school initiated a ‘hold and secure’ in reaction to her presence inside the school. Onwudinjo said it was humiliating to watch the teachers slam their doors while she was still inside the school. Holy Family Elementary took the additional measure of shutting down the school the next day.

In a CHON-FM interview with Onwudinjo and her husband David MacMartin, both parents say their daughter – and now they themselves -- are the victims of racism by the school system.

Onwudinjo is a Nigerian-Canadian; MacMartin is of Scottish ancestry.

Their troubles began in September, when their daughter answered the question, "What is the significance of Orange Shirt Day?" with the answer: “It was a day black people were taken.”

Her teacher wrote her email about the girl's response, which Onwudinjo says she found insulting because it made her feel that her daughter and her parents were being singled out, and educated about its true meaning.

After months of emailing back and forth between the Principal and the teacher, both parents were eventually instructed not to communicate with school staff. By April, a notice was issued to both parents not to tresspass on school property. Onwudinjo says a letter from the Deputy Minister, Mary Cameron, in late April made her believe the order had been lifted.

Onwudinjo and MacMartin maintain the Department of Education, school staff and members of school council are targeting their family for speaking up on matters of racism at the Holy Family Elementary School.

Legal documents accuse her of banging on window at the school, yelling and screaming, and sending harassing emails to the Principal.

Onwudinjo and MacMartin say a simple apology earlier on would have de-escalated matters, but that staff and department officials began putting sanctions on them instead which has had a negative effect on their daughter's wellbeing at the school.

Onwudinjo is scheduled to appear in court June 19.



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