B.C. school trustee apologizes for 'ill conceived' Facebook post comparing masks to slavery
VANCOUVER -- A school board trustee from B.C.'s Fraser Valley has apologized for an "ill conceived" post he shared on Facebook comparing COVID-19 mask mandates to slavery.
The post was shared on Abbotsford school trustee Phil Anderson's personal Facebook page last week, and showed a medical mask hanging from a flagpole under the words "THE FLAG OF SLAVERY."
Anderson removed the post Friday morning and announced that he's taking a break from social media.
"Unfortunately, I have shared posts on my profile that were ill conceived, and I deeply regret my actions," he wrote.
"Please know that my actions are not reflective of our board's position."
Board chair Stan Peterson said the district learned about the post on Thursday night, and that Anderson has since agreed to temporarily step aside from his trustee duties until he can "take training to build a better understanding of these issues."
"The Abbotsford Board of Education is fundamentally committed to providing a safe, equitable and inclusive environment for all our students, staff and families. The board is strongly committed to anti-racism, and opposes hate in any form," Peterson said in a statement.
"In addition, we remain committed to fully implementing the provincial public health and safety procedures, and strongly support the work of our staff who have been dedicated to our students throughout the pandemic."
The Abbotsford School District told CTV News the specific training Anderson will undergo is still being determined.
"Trustee Anderson is currently investigating professional development options focused on anti-racism, equity and inclusion, and the use of social media. He has committed to his colleagues on the board to report back on his learning and growth at a future date," a spokesperson said in an email.
Anderson has not responded to requests for comment from CTV News.
Some on social media suggested the concern over Anderson's posts was an "assault" on freedom of speech, while others argued that school trustees should be held to a higher standard than the general public – particularly as teachers are trying to stay safe from COVID-19 while doing their jobs.
"Some staff and students are immune compromised. It would be worse without masks and other health measures," one woman wrote under Anderson's apology.