A Halifax newspaper is under fire for an article it published about seemingly violent refugee students based on anonymous interviews with parents.
UPDATE: April 15 — A columnist with the Chronicle Herald has resigned following the backlash to the article, CBC reports. Lezlie Lowe told the broadcaster the story "lays bare the worst of the worst xenophobia in our city and our province."
The Chronicle Herald published the story on Saturday about students at Chebucto Heights Elementary School. One of the interviewees, who asked to be referred to in the article by her nickname "Missy," alleged that refugee students used a chain to choke her daughter, who is in Grade 3.
"She said one boy yelled 'Muslims rule the world' while choking her daughter," reads the original article with the headline "Parents worried over school kids' brutality at Chebucto Heights Elementary School."
A sign for the Halifax Chronicle Herald is seen as members of the newsroom union picket outside the newspaper's office after walking off the job in Halifax on Jan. 23, 2016. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)
The paper, which has been experiencing a newsroom strike since January, was bombarded with online condemnation from readers and other journalists.
A humiliating, xenophobic excuse for journalism, citing anonymous sources, written by anon scab, at striking paper https://t.co/M9GQ54Mw01
— Andrea Woo | 鄔瑞楓 (@AndreaWoo) April 10, 2016
The story was deleted from the paper's website over the weekend. (Blogger Chris Parsons has republished it here.)
But the article, which had no byline, caught the attention of anti-Muslim groups.
"Reaction to the story was all over the map, from thoughtful to downright scary," the Herald stated on the page that held the original story.
"Appallingly, anti-Muslim groups with words like ‘crusade’ and ‘jihad’ in their names started sharing the article."
— Alheli Picazo (@a_picazo) April 10, 2016
Elwin LeRoux , superintendent of the Halifax Regional School Board, blasted the article on Monday for its "harmful" tone, according to Metro Halifax.
“I was deeply offended to see the school represented so inaccurately. I know how hard teachers, administrators and support staff at Chebucto Heights have been working to support each student enrolled in the school,” said LeRoux in a message to school board staff.
A current worker at the Herald told The Coast that he feels "ashamed to be associated with this newspaper" after reading the story.
"I read it and the first thing I thought was 'Wow. The only thing this article will accomplish is breed ignorance, hatred and intolerance.' I couldn't believe it. What I really was shocked about was that it got through the editors."
Julie Chamagne, executive director of the Halifax Refugee Clinic, said the story sends a damaging message to the refugee community in Halifax and beyond.
"I think this article is super damaging and complete drivel," Chamagne told The Huffington Post Canada.
"The tone is really pernicious, and there was no fact-checking and it's hearsay and rumours."