Alberta school division sorry after employee dressed as Spice Girl with blackface

A staff member at a Christian school wore blackface while dressed as a Spice Girl

An Alberta school division has apologized after a staff member at a Christian school wore blackface while dressed up as a member of the British band Spice Girls.

Elk Island Public Schools said in a statement Monday that it is taking immediate action with the employee to address her conduct.

“We do not condone behaviour that would be offensive or hurtful to any student, employee or member of our school community,” said the division.

It added that an apology was also going home to parents.

“In the days ahead, EIPS will seek out resources in order to further educate employees, both at this school and throughout the division, about the need to be respectful of all races and cultures.

“It is our intention to ensure that an incident of this kind is not repeated.”

Edmonton activist Bashir Mohamed said a friend who is a teacher sent him a link to the photo from a Facebook group. He then put the picture out on Twitter with several comments and asked how a black student at the school might feel about it.

Related: Viral video of B.C. woman’s rant makes it hard to deny racism, advocate says

The photo shows a woman wearing dark face makeup while dressed up as Mel B, otherwise known as “Scary Spice” with the 1990s all-girl band.

She is standing with other adults posing as celebrity judges in a talent event at Strathcona Christian Academy in Sherwood Park, just east of Edmonton.

“Look who’s here for SCA’s Got Talent! Meet the judges: Simon Cowell, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel!! All the best to our competitors!” said a caption of the photo from SCA Elementary.

Mohamed said he didn’t put out the photo to get the employee fired. He wanted it to act as a teaching moment.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity for there to be education where they can understand why this is an issue and learn from it,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, this person is an educator and they are responsible for students.”

He added that most people are likely to understand that blackface is wrong, but they don’t understand why, or realize that it has roots in Canadian history as well as in the United States.

Education Minister David Eggen said even though the matter is being dealt with, he finds it disturbing.

“It’s inappropriate behaviour that doesn’t belong in schools,” Eggen said.

“It sets a bad example.”

Marisa Peters, an Edmonton blogger who uses the Twitter handle Stream and Stone, said she is a former student of Strathcona Christian Academy’s secondary school.

“In musical theater we were asked to fake tan and wore dark makeup to dress as Puerto Ricans for ‘West Side Story,’” said her tweet. “Blackface has a history at this school.”

Laura McNabb, a spokeswoman for the school division, said officials would not be commenting further.

Related: Trudeau says anti-black racism exists in Canada

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Prince Rupert students learn to chase away anxiety

Author Amanda Stern presented at Prince Rupert Middle School on Feb. 22

Northern residents rejoice at increased BC Ferries sailings

B.C. government announced that service will be restored to 2014 levels

Rio Tinto donates $50K for Shames Mountain chairlift upgrades

The money was used to purchase the chairlift’s bull wheel replacement last summer

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Cullen remains uncertain about political future

Says he’ll make decision in early March

Ice skating on the North Coast, a rare treat

Seawolves hockey players bring their gear to Oliver Lake this week to play on the outdoor rink

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ bring home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Most Read