By Adriana Glikman
Program Coordinator, Winnipeg
B’nai Brith Canada
B’nai Brith Canada is commending the efforts of Maple Leaf School in North Kildonan, Winnipeg after it ensured the prompt removal of hateful and antisemitic graffiti discovered on the school’s walls Friday night.
At least two walls near the elementary school’s playground and basketball court were vandalized with offensive graffiti, including vulgar language, drawings, and large swastika symbols spray-painted in green. While the tags were already removed by Sunday, the sense of disappointment and discouragement for those members of the neighbourhood who saw them has not yet abated.
“This kind of news is very upsetting to hear. What these vandals have done is very offensive to everyone – the division and the community at large. There is no excuse for behaviour like this,” River East Transcona School Division superintendent Kelly Barkman told CTV News. “The messaging and the tone of the graffiti is totally not what North Kildonan and what Winnipeg is known for,” added North Kildonan city councillor Jeff Browaty. “That has no place in Canadian society, in our city, and in our neighbourhood.”
According to North Kildonan Community Watch, Maple Leaf, an early childhood school whose students are from kindergarten to grade five, isn’t the first school in the area to be targeted. Two other schools, Calvin Christian School and Sun Valley School, were also hit with graffiti in June but not as severely. Last month, vandals also defaced (page doesn`t exist anymore) the Gray Academy of Jewish Education’s outdoor playground.
The watch group, which patrols the neighbourhood in the evenings, is calling for schools to install better lighting fixtures in a bid to deter would-be vandals.
“B’nai Brith applauds the swift response of Maple Leaf school to remove these hateful and offensive images,” said Amanda Hohmann, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “Vandalism that seeks to hurt or belittle religious or ethnic groups has no place in a progressive and diverse city such as Winnipeg – or in Canadian society. Period.”
Winnipeg police said Sunday that the crime was not reported, but that a suspect could face charges of vandalism or mischief.