Alberta school division sorry after employee dressed as Spice Girl with blackface

A staff member at a Christian school wore blackface while dressed as a Spice Girl

An Alberta school division has apologized after a staff member at a Christian school wore blackface while dressed up as a member of the British band Spice Girls.

Elk Island Public Schools said in a statement Monday that it is taking immediate action with the employee to address her conduct.

“We do not condone behaviour that would be offensive or hurtful to any student, employee or member of our school community,” said the division.

It added that an apology was also going home to parents.

“In the days ahead, EIPS will seek out resources in order to further educate employees, both at this school and throughout the division, about the need to be respectful of all races and cultures.

“It is our intention to ensure that an incident of this kind is not repeated.”

Edmonton activist Bashir Mohamed said a friend who is a teacher sent him a link to the photo from a Facebook group. He then put the picture out on Twitter with several comments and asked how a black student at the school might feel about it.

Related: Viral video of B.C. woman’s rant makes it hard to deny racism, advocate says

The photo shows a woman wearing dark face makeup while dressed up as Mel B, otherwise known as “Scary Spice” with the 1990s all-girl band.

She is standing with other adults posing as celebrity judges in a talent event at Strathcona Christian Academy in Sherwood Park, just east of Edmonton.

“Look who’s here for SCA’s Got Talent! Meet the judges: Simon Cowell, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel!! All the best to our competitors!” said a caption of the photo from SCA Elementary.

Mohamed said he didn’t put out the photo to get the employee fired. He wanted it to act as a teaching moment.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity for there to be education where they can understand why this is an issue and learn from it,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, this person is an educator and they are responsible for students.”

He added that most people are likely to understand that blackface is wrong, but they don’t understand why, or realize that it has roots in Canadian history as well as in the United States.

Education Minister David Eggen said even though the matter is being dealt with, he finds it disturbing.

“It’s inappropriate behaviour that doesn’t belong in schools,” Eggen said.

“It sets a bad example.”

Marisa Peters, an Edmonton blogger who uses the Twitter handle Stream and Stone, said she is a former student of Strathcona Christian Academy’s secondary school.

“In musical theater we were asked to fake tan and wore dark makeup to dress as Puerto Ricans for ‘West Side Story,’” said her tweet. “Blackface has a history at this school.”

Laura McNabb, a spokeswoman for the school division, said officials would not be commenting further.

Related: Trudeau says anti-black racism exists in Canada

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Garbage truck and van collide on 6 Ave.

No serious injuries in mid-day collision

One in custody after dramatic Abbotsford vehicle theft ends with rollover in Chilliwack

Prolific offender Michael Joseph Hasell facing numerous charges

Five calls on local highways, mountains for Hope rescue squad

Injured hikers, injured motorists and one casualty has Hope SAR team busy

Lower Mainland cools down as heat wave lifts

Environment Canada predicts temperatures in the mid to low 20s

Fraser Health launches new drug-use support team to curb overdoses

Nearly 200 people have been killed by illicit drug overdoses in the region so far in 2018

Stolen sunshade puts damper on Lower Mainland woman’s pet-relief effort

Broken umbrella taken from White Rock lawn ‘within 10 minutes’

Teen killed by train remembered for his love

Friends and family share stories of young Crescent Beach train victim

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Canadian Tire delivers toys to ease kids’ street play pain in B.C. neighbourhood

It’s like Christmas for 11 kids who are supposed to be confined to their yards by strata bylaw

City of Burnaby issues eviction notice for pipeline protest camp

Residents of Camp Cloud near the Trans Mountain work site have 72 hours to leave

Most Read