Hamilton high school student fired from co-op placement over ‘OK’ hand gesture

A 17-year old student was fired earlier this month from a hospital co-op after her employer claimed that she made a gesture of white supremacy in a photo on social media. The symbol is typically perceived to mean “OK.”

“It wasn’t meant to be racist and it wouldn’t happen again. I thought it means ‘OK.’ Like a thumbs-up sign,” the student, named Megan Breeze, told the Hamilton Spectator.

Breeze told the Hamilton Spectator that she did not know the symbol could be interpreted as racist. “They said it was a racist sign. I didn’t know. I was accused of being a racist,” she said and continued, “I wasn’t given much information except I was being kicked out of my co-op.”

She had been accepted into a co-op program with Juravinski Hospital where her duties included tasks like working in customer service at the hospital and among patients in the general medicine unit. “It was great. I was really excited. I really wanted to do that co-op.” she said.

Things went south for Breeze when the teacher who interviewed her took a photo of her and four other students in which she made the hand symbol.

That photo was later posted to social media, and soon after it was posted, Breeze’s parents got a phone call from the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), saying they needed to come into a meeting. The Hamilton Health Services (HHS) said a community member submitted a tip regarding Breeze, accusing her of racism.

HHS spokesperson Wendy Stewart said, “We informed the school board when we were made aware of the posts in early October. As the pictures in the posts were taken at HHS sites, we acted decisively to emphasize that we expect all persons who come to our sites, regardless of whether they are an employee, patient, visitor or vendor to behave in a manner that ensures everyone at HHS feels respected, safe and welcome.”

School board spokesperson Shawn McKillop said that the details of the situation were being kept confidential. “A community member noticed an unacceptable symbol in a social media post and reported it to HWDSB and program partner, Hamilton Health Sciences,” McKillop said.

McKillop added, “The symbol, which can be interpreted as promoting hate, does not align with HWDSB’s commitment to equity and inclusion. Symbols of hate that promote racism or white supremacy ideology are not tolerated in HWDSB or anywhere in our community. The image was immediately taken down.”

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Comments (2)

  • Donald R. Laster, Jr

    Those on the “Left” are constantly twisting non-racial things into racial things. She probably has a case for libel, slander, and interference with her rights. The “OK” hand signal is not racial and never has been – except to “Leftist”.

    • Donald R. Laster, Jr

      This quote unfortunately still applies today:

      “There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the
      troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the
      public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their
      troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their
      wrongs, partly because they want sympathy, and partly because it pays.
      Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances,
      because they do not want to lose their jobs. There is a certain class
      of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because
      as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of
      making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves
      prominent before the public.”
      — Booker T. Washington in his 1911 book, My Larger Education

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