Saturday, April 28, 2007

Student Sits Through National Anthem, Gets Kicked out of Class and "Roughed Up"

From Moncton's 91.9FM radio station last Thursday:

Miramichi teacher suspended after student sent to office

April 26, 2007 - 5:43 pm

MIRAMICHI, NB - A teacher has been suspended after sending a student to the principal's office for refusing to stand during the Canadian anthem.

Eric Cameron, a Grade 9 teacher at Miramichi Valley High School, was disciplined following the incident last Thursday.

The superintendent of District 16 school board has declined comment, citing privacy issues.

The student who wouldn't stand was roughed up after the incident by others on a school bus.

He wasn't seriously hurt.

Supt. Randall Hansen of Miramichi Regional Police says they've spoken to a number of witnesses but charges haven't been laid.

It can take guts to stand up for your beliefs and not stand up for the national anthem. Especially when you're a high school student disobeying a teacher's orders. Especially when you live in a conservative small town, where not standing for the anthem can mean - as it did in this case - getting "roughed up" by your jingoistic "peers".

Now, subsequent to the above story getting in the news, the school principal issued a statement saying that the teacher was not suspended for kicking the kid out of class, but for some other reason. Right-wing bloggers, for their part, vented their indignation that the teacher might be suspended. For his part, anarchist Duane Rousselle (who had gone to the same high school as a youth) wrote an open letter to the principal calling on them to not rescind the suspension.

Miramichi, from what i understand, is a very white and relatively poor town in New Brunswick. People there have been fucked over by capitalism, but for all that there is not a lot of anti-capitalist sentiment. Rather, people are either blamed for their own difficulties - or else the blame is projected onto a convenient scapegoat, most usually the Mi'kmmaq who recently had some of their national rights to regulate their own lobster trapping in the Miramichi Bay recognized.

Indeed, from what i have heard, the surprise is not that the student got roughed up, but that he dared to take his stand (so to speak) in the first place. Most young radicals leave, going to places like Fredericton or Moncton the first chance they get.

It is a necessary part of our building a movement that we link up with people in places like Miramichi, help them break through their isolation, supporting them to the degree that we can. How to do that may not be obvious, but it should be on our agenda.


  1. At first I was surprised, but now that I think about it, not so much: I am not alone.

    I went through high school, and never once did I stand for the enemies victory song. Rememberence Day really made the faculty and Admin squerm a little. I said to my teacher before assembleys expecting people to stand for it before hand, and usually they were fine once I explain. But those were the good instanced. Other times teachers would try to kind of criminalize me. They would make me sound like I was being bad, that I did something wrong and disrespectful. And in one instanced, a teacher (one I didn't talk to, and one prominently known to be conservative), kicked me out, and sent me to the office. She was pissed. Anyways, after sitting in the office and laughing I got kicked out for something so stupid, I talked with the vice-principal. He said he completely understood and supported me in my endeavor to stand up for what I believe in.

    Yeah, more and more young people across the nation are starting to wake up and realized, "I'm not standing for this."

  2. As an Anabaptist I have stopped singing the national anthem at sporting events and I'm begining to feel uncomfortable standing for it. It's a faith thing, and some people cannot understand it.

    This teacher should be suspended for sending the kid to the principle's office for making a statement. I don't understand on what gounds the teacher has to discipline the student? Not being patriotic? Ridiculous!

  3. Thanks for the entry on this; to many miramichi'ers this doesn't seem like an important issue. People are saying that the the PC nazi's are taking this further than it should be taken. The fact is, this is what causes school shootings. This is what happens when Stephen harper reinvents the Red Scare by introducing yellow ribbons and red t-shirts.

    I'd like to see students sit down the next time they hear the national anthem to show solidarity with this boy.


  4. The fact is simple here, after being in the school system at MVHS since September was this kid suddenly enlightened, or was it just an opportunity to show to others what kind of troublemaker he really is. If the Anthem wasn't a problem for the past 8 months - why now? It all comes down to respect for others. Respect for his teacher and fellow classmates. Teachers have it difficult enough in the schools due to lack of concern from parents and obviously lack of support from their Supervisors as well. In life we all have to do things that may seem at the time as unimportant, but our Anthem represents us as a group of people being thankful for sacrifices made in the past to make our future better. Backing the behaviour of this student goes to show how weak our School Board really is and how much they are afraid to take a stand on issues. Maybe Kathy Baldwin, Superintendent of District 16 is good friends with the parents of the boy, and chooses to be on their side instead of doing what is correct. Mr. Cameron is a well respected teacher, a teacher who cares about his students, and a man who an excellent example to his students of what a fellow citizen should be. Kathy Baldwin and Peggy Mitchell would do well to follow Mr. Cameron's example.

  5. "Here is what truly happened:

    Class begins with National anthem. All students rise except one, a Mi'kmaq student from close by Eel Ground First Nation. The teacher motions for him to stand up and the student refuses. Teacher then verbally asks him to stand up with no response from student. At the end of the anthem, teacher starts belittling student who responds by stating that O'Canada does not represent his culture or language. Teacher sends him to principal's office.

    Here's where things get strange. The Principal contacts District and district tells Principal to put the student back in class without further incident. Teacher freaks out and says no way! Arguments go back and forth between District, Principal and Teacher. Teacher finally says "you're just gonna have to suspend me before I let that kid back in my class.""

    --copied from a blog

  6. First of all to the one who truly knows what happened - were you really there in the office. Mr. Cameron was belittling the guy - the fact that he was being disrespectful makes him as low as the snails in the grass - you can't get any smaller. It's our job as parents and adults to teach kids they have to be respectful - you may not have to agree with what's going on, but for goodness sake show respect in the situation you find yourself in. If the student went to the office and expressed how he felt at the beginning of the year this could have been avoided, but no mister big shot after 8 months in school decides I'm not standing anymore - what's going to be next - he's not going to feel like listening in class, doing homework, etc. If my child showed such disrespect towards someone else, I would definitely question myself as to where I went wrong. The above writer said the kid was Mi'kmaq, so what does that make him different from the rest of the kids. We live in 2007, whether your native, white, black, chinese - it doesn't matter. Don't expect favours because of the race you represent - we're all Canadians, hence, the pride we feel towards Canada is quite visible in our Canadian National Anthem. Mr. Cameron deserves an apology from the student, the principal, and DIstrict 16 - Kathy Baldwin. Shame on you.

  7. Hey anonymous, who posted what really happened - can you post (or email me at where you found the details of what happened?

    i think they're important, but haven't been able to find the source...


  8. Kers. .

    I found them on a blog when I googled the info. Don't know if it's 100% trustable, but I can't help but find it truth in it anyways. I think it was "Spinks" blog "Spink about it", but the thing seems to be deleted now, along with his entire story on what happened. He replaced it with the correct information and made an entirely new complaint -- "aboriginal students are first and foremost canadians".

    Please remember that this is the same place (Miramichi) that a full-time hockey player was kicked off the team because he didn't sign a canadian flag (which was going to be sent off to Iraq). Look that story up on cbc for more info. There is something about Miramichi, and something about the east coast in general. It's poverty, it's apathy . . and the saddest part is that activists in this region abandon all hope and ship their activism off to places where it's accepted; to Montreal, or Halifax. They completely forget the meaning of resistance -- even they, by moving, vote for conformity.


  9. Thanks Duane - i certainly agree with your observations, and would welcome you or others from places like Miramichi to continue to let us know about what's going on there, and also about how you think people can support those who stay in these smaller conservative communities to try and resist.

    i know that it is common for radicals from smaller communities to move to big cities, and can't blame them as in some cases to stay can mean either putting your life in danger or else having to closet yourself. Not everywhere, but certainly in some places.

    And at the same time you have the phenomenon of (often but not always middle class) radicals who want to go "back to the land" (whose land?).

    It seems like we should be able to unravel this knot...

  10. First of all I am from Miramichi and contradictory to popular belief we are NOT poor here lol. I could take a drive to any and I mean pretty well any other city in this province and things look much worse. People should stop posting things that are not facts. The manner in which the teacher spoke to the student has not been revealed. None of the facts of this situation have. Why is that? Why does the schoolboard have a gag on everything? You have no idea what bull goes on in this school. There are not supposed to be any racial divisions but yet the school imposes them upon the non-native children everyday. Everywhere you look in this school there are suncatchers, or native murals on the walls. There are no representations of other cultures on the walls. So before others start to judge what is going on here think about this. All the students are Canadian. The exchange students from foreign countries even stand in class as a sign of respect. Stop making this about poverty and beliefs. They are all from Canada and there is alot more boundaries that were laid down by the schoolboard than the teacher or students!

  11. After reading some of the comments about the Miramichi, from people who know nothing about it, or let alone, where it might be, i feel like it is time to enlighten them a bit. The Student who is a native from Burnt Church Reserve is NO activist. He is well known for sleeping on his desk in every class, including Mr. Camerons. He never passes in assignments, let alone do any of them, and always using the excuse that He is Native and doesn't have too, Even though there are at least 5 other Native students in the class who do there work and stand for the Anthem, along with the Mexican and Chineese exchange students. Now that is RESPECT! He has no respect for himself or anyone else. And the roughing up occured while he was traveling home on the bus for the Natives to Burnt Church by a fellow Native student who is on Mr. Camerons side and thinks Mr. Cameron got a raw deal.

  12. I am from Miramichi and it is poor, after the mills closed all that was left were jobs at fast food places or the walmart, so I guess its not poor if you compare it to a 3rd world country?! lol.

    It doesn't matter if he was lazy, not handing in assignments etc., he, along with anyone else has the right to not stand. The anthem is not played in university since there is a diversity of cultures and the administration knows that no one would stand if it were played.

    There is a growing patriotism in this country, especially because of the war. Well I say don't stand for the anthem, don't support the troops and start thinking about what is going on around us. I highly doubt those of you who said it was disrespectful to not stand for the anthem would perform a custom if you were to travel to another country, what would you say? "I don't have to do that because I'm Canadian"

  13. Maybe the reason Canada is in such bad shape has to do with the negativity from people like you.
    Who would be the first to cry HELP if the troops were needed here in Canada.
    So have some courtisity for the Men and Women who are trained to protect. NOt some lazy kid that thinks he is all that and more. I am over 40 and have been to different parts of Canada and it is not a Right, it is a privilage to live in Canada.
    And now we are getting away from what really happened. A kid in grade 9 has no respect for any athority, It is teached to them when they are young and before they venture out. Apparently that did happen to this grade 9 student.
    When I was in school, we respected the teachers . Today there is no respect. That is why there is so much shit happening in the Schools.
    They should NOT have gotten rid of the STRAP. That is when things fell apart in the Schools.

  14. Actually, most recent anonymous, you're still confused.

    It is not a matter of canada is in bad shape because of this kind of people or that, or canada is in bad shape because we passed this law or didn't do that one, or because of the liberals or the conservartives or because of Quebec or the English.

    Canada is in bad shape because it was founded, established, and persists to this day as a government claiming sovereignty over land which was violently stolen from its first inhabitants. Just like South Africa or Israel or Tibet or the united states.

    And despite the media spin, the Indigenous people here as elsewhere never lost, never ceded, never cried uncle or agreed that the game was over.

    i have seen no evidence that the student in question was lazy, or dumb or a show-off. Everything i have been able to learn seems to indicate the opposite. He took a principled stand after doing otherwise for months (this shows forethought and principle) and did not back down (this shows courage).

    Canada will continue to be "in bad shape" as long as there is a canada. It's a criminal enterprise, a genocidal hoax, a lazy-ass place-holder for u.s. imperialism, and so much more.

    And once we change that, it won't be canada any more.

  15. "i have seen no evidence that the student in question was lazy, or dumb or a show-off."

    . . . and even if that evidence was to be released it wouldn't really change much would it? It doesn't invalidate the act -- what we are told is that he was kicked out, on this particular occassion, because he refused to stand. Perhaps we should connect the personal to the political here, make us of the sociological imagination, and realize that this issue is and is not about than *one* person.

    These actions are political in nature, as all actions are, and have directly political consequences.

    We can not lose focus as to why, on *this* particular occassion, a teacher lost his cool. The most oppositionally defiant individual on earth could, day after day, defy his figures of authority, and on the next day, if he chooses to refuse to stand for the anthem and he is treated as this school kid was, the history really doesn't matter.

    Let's stop kidding ourselves.



  16. Why is the SchoolBoard taking their time to resolve this issue? Because they know what they did was wrong and now they don't have any idea how to fix the mess they made. They should hsve stool behind the teacher untill they found out all the facts, Which they did not do. I was there and it was unfair how things went down.
    Enough specualtion, wait untill Friday or Monday. The truth will come OUT

  17. I have read through all of the posts on this blog and have also read through the posts that the students have on in support of Mr Cameron. I have to say I sit on the fence and feel that more information is needed in order to truly understand the situation. I do have my own feelings about this situation though. I grew up in the Miramichi and went to that very same high school, I had Mr Cameron as a teacher and had a debate with him as well (took a stand, however you wish to word it). My debate however was handled in a different manner. I discussed my stance on a situation with him, he did not agree, voiced his opinion and we came to an agreement. He was a most respectable and understanding man.
    I feel that this students behavioural history in class is relevent simply because it is a precursor to the reaction of Mr Cameron. On the other hand, if this student does not feel that the national anthem is representative of his culture, language or beliefs then he has every right not to stand. I do find it puzzling that he stood everyday for eight months and suddenly took a stand but perhaps it is as was stated in a previous post and it took some courage to finally stand up to the masses. I can appreciate that. Making that kind of choice can be difficult and if it is as was said and this time frame reflects much thought, well then why was the manner in which he carried out his stand not "more thought out". Would it not have been respectful and possibly have even helped his cause of promoting his culture to educate the classmates and teacher as to why he would no longer be standing for O'Canada. I do believe that the Miramichi is rather close minded. They simply are not exposed to the cultural diversity that is available in larger centres. This point is why I feel it would have been of the utmost benefit for the student to educate the teacher and then educated his classmates as well either himself or by having Mr Cameron do it. Maybe you will think that is asking too much of the student but he was obviously ready to face the heat, why not face it with the dignity and respect that ancient Mi'kmaq culture was built on.
    If Mr Cameron wanted an apology before letting the student back into the class then I think he deserved one. Not an apology for not standing but an apology for disrupting the class and for the misunderstanding. This student is absolutely not responsible for apologizing for his beliefs and culture, those are to be cherished.
    The key to this entire situation is respect, Mr Camerone wanted respect in his classroom and this student wanted respect for his culture.
    As a side bar, there is a debate as the whether or not the Miramichi is "poor" or not. Yes the mill did have a large impact on the Miramichi and surrounding areas however there has been much diversified growth in the employment sector. I also am not sure if the person that is insisting that the Miramichi is poor as noticed the infrastructure growth, there are many new stores that are being sustained and there are highway and roadway improvements and development. Those sorts of things don't happen in "Poor" communities!!

  18. Ok, enough, I am a grade 9 student who was in that class that day. the student in question was not doing this for his culture, he was doing it because he is a lazy troublemaker. he doesn't sleep at night and thinks he can sleep during the day in school. He should give Mr. Cameron an apology and the rest of the students also. He disrupts the class on a daily basis. He should have been asked to leave in September, by the principal, instead , The Students that go to school to learn, had to put up with THIS STUDENT HAVING NO RESPECT for Mr. Cameron, the School , and all of the students who want to learn. This STUDENT lays on the desk and sleeps, not just sit there in his chair and sleep, and every class he attended
    is the same way.
    Mr Cameron showed the movie," Canada, A Peoples History" and I remember how he Stopped the video and pointed out things that the Natives did for our country and telling us all that we should be proud of what they did. But again, maybe "THE STUDENT" was sleeping then, like he always did.
    We all want MR. Cameron back, THE STUDENT, well NO!