North Coast MLA and Secretary for Rural Health Jennifer Rice led a solidarity charge of more than two dozen MLAs from across the province who painted their nails on May 8 in support of a Prince Rupert schoolboy.
In her introductory remarks to the Legislature yesterday, Rice said Shemar Williams received a manicure pedicure for his eighth birthday, which left a huge smile on his face.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t received as well at school and so in solidarity, many of my colleagues here, over two dozen, including many of my male colleagues, we painted our nails. Our message to Shemar is that anyone can paint their nails and they deserve to feel safe going to school doing so,” Rice said.
Keri Hyzims, the boys’ mother, alleges on April 24, a second-grade teacher at Conrad Elementary School, Catharine Hague removed the nail polish over two consecutive days. She said Shemar told her he was called to the teacher’s desk during class time, claiming he was told the nail polish was “ugly” and “it’s not right.”
The Grade 2 student returned to school on May 5 for the first time in almost two weeks. His mom told Black Press Media even after a meeting with representatives from School District 52 and a change of classroom offered, he is still frightened.
She said she doesn’t know what the path moving forward will look like. While he was the victim of inappropriate behaviour, she said he is the one that has to be disrupted and upset by moving class so late in the school year.
Rice said she was “really struck” learning about the incident in her riding and it “pained her.”
“While I respect the independent investigation process [of SD 52], it does not change the fact that a little boy felt ostracized and unsafe at school for just being who he is. No child should feel this way.”
“Everyone deserves to show up as themselves without fear and hostility. Besides, it’s 2023 and I think fingernail polish is near the bottom of the list of concerns we as a society need to worry about,” the MLA said.
To cement her support of the boy’s situation and to encourage him to be his true self, Rice has given him a $100 gift certificate to the salon so he can have his nails re-done.