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Swastikas sprayed across N.B. park named for teen who inspired global kindness campaign

Several parents say they were shocked to find a hate symbol spray painted over a Riverview playground dedicated to a teen who led a campaign encouraging kindness before she died of cancer.

“Shock and disbelief and disgust were the first few things that came to mind,” Tosh Taylor said Monday about the swastikas. 

“And then anger hit pretty quickly.”

The swastikas were painted on various pieces of playground equipment, a mural and a stone at the Rebecca Schofield All World Super Play Park beside Frank L. Bowser School. 

Multiple triangular pieces of playground equipment with swastikas.
Swastikas were spray painted across several pieces of playground equipment at the park. (Lara Lavoie/Submitted)

Lara Lavoie, another parent and a member of the home and school committee, said she saw the graffiti while dropping her child, who attends Grade 5, at school. Lavoie said her son was upset because he knows the significance of the symbol. 

“He was really upset and looking for answers,” Lavoie said. 

The park is named after Rebecca Schofield, who was 18 when she died of brain cancer in 2018. Schofield inspired a campaign of random acts of kindness known for the hashtag BeccaToldMeTo.

WATCH | Anger and hurt as swastikas sprayed across Riverview park honouring Rebecca Schofield: 

swastikas sprayed across n b park named for teen who inspired global kindness campaign 1

Parents shocked after hate symbols sprayed on playground

11 hours ago

Duration 2:18

Swastikas were spray-painted across a Riverview playground named after Rebecca Schofield, a teen whose kindness campaign had a global impact.

More than $650,000 was raised to rebuild a playground in her name beside the school, which was completed in 2019.

‘Saddened and disgusted’: Becca’s family

Schofield’s mother, Anne, sent a statement to CBC News, saying the family is “saddened and disgusted that a park built by and for the community in honour of Becca and her mission to spread kindness has been vandalized with hate symbols.”

“The Schofield family condemns antisemitism, hate and discrimination in all its forms and hope the culprit will come forward,” she wrote, thanking the school district and school staff for “their quick action” in covering up and removing the symbols.

Taylor, also with the home and school group, said the park is an important part of the school and the community.

“We helped fundraise for that park, we helped build that park. Our literal blood, sweat and tears have gone into that park.”

A bald man in a blazer and white button-up shirt smiling.
Randy MacLean, superintendent of Anglophone East School District, says staff quickly covered and then cleaned off the spray paint. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Randy MacLean, superintendent of Anglophone East School District, sent a memo to parents Monday saying staff arrived at the school in the morning to find “symbols and words of hate and vulgarity.”

Tarps were used to temporarily cover the vandalism, and the playground was closed for the morning. District staff had removed the symbols by midday.

MacLean told reporters that the district sees vandalism at its schools, but the symbol was shocking to see. 

“The content itself was extremely shocking and just troubling, especially where we are in 2023,” MacLean said.

MacLean said he had reviewed security footage that show someone spray painting the symbols around 11 p.m. on Sunday. He said there appeared to be one person and a vehicle in the area.

MacLean declined to elaborate on whether the person appeared to be young or old, saying he would let police investigate. 

The vandalism was reported to Codiac Regional RCMP. CBC News reached out to the police force, which confirmed the incident is under investigation.

A smiling teenager in a radio studio.
Riverview teen Rebecca Schofield was well known for her kindness campaign before her death in 2018. (CBC News)

Taylor and Lavoie said the committee has been pushing the school district to increase overnight security for the park.

“When the park was first built, there was a major fundraising, and we have a portion of those funds saved for upkeep of the park and we wanted to use that toward security,” Lavoie said.

“And now we’re just waiting for approval from the district. It’s been a month now. We’re still waiting.”

MacLean said the district is looking at options for increasing security. 

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