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H.J. Cody students plan a protest after assault of local teen

Victim treated for significant injuries
File photo

Spiralling from the Jan. 20 incident of an alleged assault against a local teen that resulted in two young people being charged, H. J. Cody students have united to make their voices heard through a peaceful protest scheduled for Feb. 4.

“We are so sick and tired of this happening (and) things not being dealt with properly. We have so many stories and several people before us have had so many stories and we want to do something about it. The incident that has happened over this past weekend, we kind of felt that it wasn’t properly dealt with,” said Olivia Taylor, Grade 12 student at H. J. Cody.

During the lunch hour on Jan. 20, the Sylvan Lake RCMP attended to a scene outside a local business on 50 St., stated a Jan. 24 RCMP news release. Officers obtained a video that depicted a male youth being assaulted by two other male youths.

The 16-year-old victim who sustained significant injuries during the assault was taken to an area hospital, where he was treated and released.

The Sylvan Lake RCMP has charged two 15-year-old males with assault causing bodily harm. Both accused have been released to appear in Red Deer Provincial Youth Court on Mar. 24.

The RCMP reminds citizens of Sylvan Lake to contact the detachment and report incidents and concerns around crimes in progress to allow for investigation in a timely manner.

“Unfortunately, no one from the public, including the youth who had been present and recording the assault had contacted 911 or reported the event to the RCMP. As mentioned in the media release, a concerned citizen reported the assault to our office following the viewing of the video via social media,” said detachment commander Jay Peden.

“Once the assault had been reported our investigators were quick to identify those involved and were able to form the grounds to arrest and charge the youth responsible for the assault.”

The students at H. J. Cody High School hope to give voice to past and present students and leave behind a better environment for those to come.

“It is absolutely heartbreaking and it shatters our souls to know that this has happened,” said Taylor. “We realized that our voice cannot be silenced unless we allow it to be silenced. We are also doing this for all of the incidents that happened before this particular situation or might come after this.”

Kurt Sacher, superintendent for Chinook’s Edge School Division responded by saying, “I think it’s an unfortunate, isolated incident that could happen at any school across the province of Alberta when a couple of individuals behave in a fashion like that. It occurred off school property, but because it is connected to the school, the school does have the authority under the education act to take significant action and they already are taking significant action.”

Taylor stated that the student advocates are also reaching out to the school board, claiming their right to safety and demanding action be taken.

“We want this to be a community of change and a shift in how we go to school and the environment that we are taught in and have to be in for eight hours a day.

“If you were a student at H. J. Cody before and something happened and you didn’t think that you got the justice you deserve, come out. If you are a parent who has a kid that goes to that school or has gone to that school and you also have a story, or you just feel so deeply moved by this, come out. Come out and support those who tell their stories and come and act on the side of change for the students’ future, their education and their safety,” said Taylor.

Sacher said the school administration always welcomes student opinions and concerns and wants to reach out to the student group for discussion and input.

Often times it’s a matter of misunderstanding, he said, adding that if something needs to be done differently, the administration will welcome discussion.

“I don’t want people to misinterpret an isolated incident like this,” said Sacher.

“I think the first, most important step for those students if they feel that way, is they should ask for a meeting with the principal,” he said.

“… H. J. Cody is an excellent school with really caring staff that are going out of their way to help students. The kids aren’t doing anything wrong — it’s good to have a voice, but most of the time it’s just a communication gap and they need to spend some time together.”

However, Taylor maintains this is not how a high school should be.

“We just want to tell them that this is what is happening, this is why we are doing it. But we just haven’t received the response that kind of acknowledges it.”

A peaceful protest has been scheduled for 10 a.m., Feb. 4. Students will walk from H. J. Cody High School down to the lakeshore and protest on and around the pier and Lakeshore Dr.

“We are walking down to the pier, giving speeches, telling our stories. So either people can meet us at the pier or they can walk with us from H.J. Cody down to the pier and just listen and stand with us,” said Taylor.