Six Nations administrative staff and educators are being urged to join forces with the Six Nations Anti-Bullying Task Force to help combat bullying in schools as the task force finally takes form.
The task force has been about three years in the making but it was derailed during the pandemic.
Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council mandated the creation of an anti-bullying task force after community members came forward with horrific stories of bullying in local schools in 2019.
Jen Mt. Pleasant has been tasked with leading the Six Nations Anti-Bullying Task Force and brought forward the group’s terms of reference last week.
She said the task force is aimed at addressing and preventing bullying and lateral violence on Six Nations.
The task force will also address the root causes of lateral violence in Indigenous communities, including colonial, social and economic factors.
Mt. Pleasant said the task force aims to create a community-driven approach to prevent lateral violence and bullying based on traditional Haudenosaunee values.
They have two working groups, with one focusing on bullying in schools and the other focusing on workplace bullying and lateral violence.
It’s not going to be a permanent community group, however, said Mt. Pleasant.
“At some point we will disband,” she said, once they’ve finished the work they set out to do.
They’ll be looking at what’s already in place to deal with bullying and lateral violence and see how they can add to it or fill in any gaps.
“We’re planning on doing quite a few events in the spring and summer to engage with the community,” said Mt. Pleasant.
They have representation from various groups in the community, including LBTQ2A folks, language speakers, Elected Council, and academics, among others.
Their protocols basically ask working group members to be respectful and maintain confidentiality.
Coun. Helen Miller was skeptical that any anti-bullying measures would work if educational officials weren’t on board.
“Anything we’ve tried to do with bullying over the years has not worked because the teachers and principals have not been on board. And that’s where it all starts. When children get bullied, they go to the principals and they say the principal isn’t doing anything. They need to be involved.”
She suggested elected council get superintendent Travis Anderson on board.
“We’ve gotten too many complaints about bullying in our schools. We have to all work together if we want to try and fix things to make them better.”
Coun. Miller said even administration staff, including receptionists and other office staff, have good ideas on how to address bullying in schools.
“We have to listen to the administration. If we’re going to have an impact on kids, we have to have the parents involved, the caregivers.”
SNGR accepted the anti-bullying task force’s terms of reference.