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

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Nelson's Diana Morita Cole is the keynote speaker of the KDocsFF film festival. Photo: Submitted
Nelson author Diana Morita Cole to speak at film festival

She will share a virtual stage with actor George Takei

Some of the folks behind Angel Flight East Kootenay: Todd Weselake is a director, partner and pilot while Brent Bidston is the president and lead pilot of the not-for-profit. Pictured here with their older plane, they hope to get an upgrade for thanks to RDEK funding. (Image courtesy of Angel Flight East Kootenay)
Angel Flight secures RDEK funding for next five years

$100,000 will go to the not-for-profit each year, with the funds to be used to acquire a larger plane

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read