Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld brought residential schools into the SOGI 123 debate that’s been brewing in this district since October, when he began criticizing the teacher resource.

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld brought residential schools into the SOGI 123 debate that’s been brewing in this district since October, when he began criticizing the teacher resource.

School trustee under fire again – this time for offensive slur at Chilliwack journalists

Chilliwack Teachers Association, Education Minister condemn Barry Neufeld’s comments targeting the Chilliwack Progress

A controversial Chilliwack school trustee is once again under fire – garnering condemnation by provincial politicians and the public – after using an ableist slur aimed at three Black Press Media employees.

The offensive word was used in a public Facebook post Thursday (Nov. 19) targeting a Chilliwack Progress reporter, the editor and the publisher.

Neufeld’s post was soon changed to no longer include the R-word before being deleted – but not before being screen-grabbed by many, including advocates for disabled people.

(Barry Neufeld/Facebook)

(Barry Neufeld/Facebook)

The social media post comes just a few days after Neufeld was given a community hero award by Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl for “going above and beyond to make our community a better place during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Since the comment was posted, an online petition started by a Chilliwack resident has quickly picked up steam. As of Friday at 2 p.m., 1,619 people had signed the petition, titled “REMOVE BARRY NEUFELD.”

This isn’t the first time Neufeld has attracted criticism.

Neufeld has long stood against the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity program in B.C. schools, with calls for his resignation after making anti-trans comments in 2018. That same year, the BC Teachers’ Federation filed a human rights complaint against him, alleging his comments were creating an unsafe work environment.

This year, the school board censured Neufeld after he made social media posts questioning the gender identity of Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top doctor.

In a series of tweets on Friday, Nov. 20, B.C. Education Minister Rob Fleming called for Neufeld to resign from his position as school trustee.

“In addition to targeting the LGBTQ community, and peddling conspiracy theories about Dr. Tam and COVID-19, he is now targeting ableist slurs at individuals,” Fleming said.

“It’s time for him to step down.”

In a separate statement, the Chilliwack Teachers Association voiced their support for the local newspaper while condemning Neufeld’s actions.

“They are dedicated and professional journalists who are not afraid to stand up for decency and fairness and to speak out against bigotry and narrow-mindedness,” the statement reads.

“The Chilliwack Progress is the oldest and one of the most successful community papers in B.C., and part of that success comes from the courage not to shy away from controversy.”

The association added that hurtful slurs have no place in schools.

In a statement on behalf of Black Press Media, editorial director Andrew Holota said, “We’re aware of the social media posts that followed a story by reporter Jessica Peters in the Nov. 5 Chilliwack Progress in regard to the Chilliwack school board.

“The public has a right to be informed about the decisions and actions of elected government representatives. We stand behind the Nov. 5 story, which accurately portrays the ongoing divisiveness within the Chilliwack school board, and the conduct and behaviour which has manifested between trustees. Mr. Neufeld’s factually inaccurate Nov. 19 Facebook post is a reflection of that discord, and it is now the focus of appropriate public attention and response. The Progress will continue to provide factual and impartial editorial coverage of this and other important community issues.”

Black Press Media has reached out to Neufeld for comment.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Business district is pictured during a traffic jam in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
Morning Start: By 2050, 95 percent of North Jakarta could be submerged

Your morning start for Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020

Highway 5 southbound lanes are closed near Exit 286. Pictured are southbound lanes at 7:06 p.m. (DriveBC)
Coquihalla Highway southbound lanes closed due to vehicle incident

Southbound lanes closed between Exit 286: Merritt and the start of Hwy 5

Masks are now officially mandatory in all City of Campbell River facilities. (Black Press File Photo)
Interior Health reports 49 new COVID-19 cases overnight

302 cases remain active; two in hospital

There are numerous ways the municipality can use the money, granted by the province. Black Press file photo.
Town of Princeton gets $1 million in COVID relief

Funds to offset affects of pandemic on municipal revenues and operations

The Campbell Mountain Landfill and other landfills operated by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen will have reduced hours from December 2020 to the end of February 2021. (Contributed photo)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen landfills reduce hours for winter

Measures will take effect from December 2020 until end of February 2021

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Beaver Creek RCMP Cpl. Robert Drapeau, left to right, Gary Bath, Lynn Marchessault, Payton Marchessault, Rebecca Marchessault and Tim Marchessault pose in this recent handout photo near the Canada-U.S. border crossing near Beaver Creek, Yukon. A family reunion trip for the woman from Georgia that left them stranded ended on a bright note when Bath drove them to the Alaskan border following an appeal for help. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Gary Bath *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Help from B.C. man allows American family to reunite in Alaska

Lynn Marchessault drove from Georgia to the Alaska border to join her husband, who serves in U.S. military

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Garage in Kelowna burns to the ground, blaze deemed suspicious

Fire crews responded to the scene just after 4:30 p.m.

(Ty Hainsworth / Facebook)
No injuries after fire rips through South Okanagan fruit stand

A fruit stand caught fire Tuesday afternoon, closing Highway 97 for two hours

Most Read