“They’d say things like ‘Canada’s full of communists. They club baby seals. That my opinion doesn’t really matter because I’m a Canadian,’” Noah Kilpatrick said by phone from Watertown, N.Y.
“The first couple times I thought it was joking, and then it just kept going, even after I said, ‘Hey, I’m just as American as you are, I have dual citizenship.’ They still didn’t care and they kept doing it.”
Noah was born in the Ottawa area but his family moved to the United States about nine years ago.
The Grade 10 student said he used to love attending Faith Fellowship Christian School. But last fall two of his teachers began teasing him about his “Canadian heritage,” he said
“It went on for month, after month,” said Noah’s mother, Tina Kilpatrick, who eventually asked her son to start keeping a log of what was said in the classroom about his nationality.
When fellow students eventually began to follow the teachers’ lead and join in on the bullying, Kilpatrick said she decided it was time to speak to the school’s lead pastor, Mike Bartholomew, who acts as superintendent. She told him that she believed Noah had become depressed as a result of how he was being treated.
'I tried to resolve it privately'
Kilpatrick said she later received a phone call from Bartholomew, saying he had ordered the two teachers to leave Noah alone for the rest of the school year. But when Noah returned the next day, he felt the teachers were ignoring him.
“Now it’s the complete opposite — OK you didn’t bug him today about being Canadian but now he still feels ostracized and punished for what he did, instead of righting a wrong,” Kilpatrick said.
“I tried to resolve it privately and it didn’t happen,” she said, so she decided to pull Noah out of the school in mid-May, and then approached a local TV station about the ordeal.
CBC News contacted Faith Fellowship Christian School and was told that officials aren’t commenting on the matter.
However, a statement attributed to Bartholomew in local media reports, said: “We at Faith Fellowship Christian School have always made it our policy not to discuss the affairs of students or their families in public venues.
“We strive for complete discretion and are committed to protecting the privacy of all our students and their families. We stand by the integrity of our staff.”
After going public with Noah’s story, his mother said the family is thinking of leaving Watertown, a community of about 30,000 residents, and moving back to Ottawa where they have relatives.
“The backlash has been intense. I didn’t realize I guess how small Watertown is,” Kilpatrick said. “It’s become quite aggressive. I’ve never felt so ostracized or intimidated.”
Noah is now completing his schooling at home by enrolling in online courses, and said he hopes to become a teacher himself one day.
“After all that I’ve seen, I want to show that there are good teachers out there,” he said.