Abbotsford school board trustee Phil Anderson has stepped down after sharing an offensive image on Facebook. (File photo)

Abbotsford school board trustee Phil Anderson has stepped down after sharing an offensive image on Facebook. (File photo)

Abbotsford trustee temporarily steps down after sharing post relating COVID masks to slavery

Phil Anderson to receive training after comparing wearing a mask to slavery on his Facebook page

An Abbotsford board of education trustee has agreed to temporarily step away from his duties after controversial social media posts he shared were discovered.

Phil Anderson shared an image comparing wearing a mask to slavery on his personal Facebook account on April 29. The photo features a mask waving in the air attached to a flag post and refers to a mask as “the flag of slavery.”

Abbotsford board of education chair Stan Petersen said they were made aware of the posts Thursday night (May 6) and decided to act swiftly.

“We emphatically state that this is not reflective of our board’s position,” he told The News in an email.

“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.

“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.”

Petersen said Anderson has agreed to temporarily step away from his duties to take training to build a better understanding of these issues. He has also agreed to apologize and take down the posts in question and refrain from using social media at this time.

According to the Abbotsford School District, training has not yet been finalized but Anderson will report back on the results.

“Trustee Anderson is currently investigating professional development options focused on anti-racism, equity and inclusion, and the use of social media,” stated Kayla Stuckart, communications manager for the district. “He has committed to his colleagues on the board to report back on his learning and growth at a future date.”

Anderson went on to apologize for his actions on his Facebook page.

“Unfortunately, I have shared posts on my profile that were ill conceived, and I deeply regret my actions,” he stated. “Please understand that at this time I am removing access to my Facebook account, and related social media. Please know that my actions are not reflective of our board’s position. Thank you for your understanding, and again, my apologies.”

Anderson has been elected twice as a trustee in Abbotsford, last placing sixth in the 2018 election with 10,064 votes.

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