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Prominent Jewish group lauds mayor, community

'North Bay was in every newspaper in Canada for almost 10 days. That's a long news cycle. That was for the wrong reasons, that's not what you want for your town but the community rallied.'
2022 05 17 Al McDonald B'nai Brith (Campaigne)
(L-R) Coun. Mac Bain, Marvin Rotrand and Michael Mostyn of B'nai Brith Canada, Mayor Al McDonald, and Coun. Johanne Brousseau.

Leaders of the national chapter of B'nai Brith visited City Hall Tuesday to honour and thank Mayor Al McDonald for his leadership in the aftermath of the widespread coverage of a troubling antisemitic video filmed on school property in North Bay.

BayToday broke the story in September 2021 when parents concerned for their children's safety shared the video depicting middle school students marching on the grounds of Ecole secondaire catholique Algonquin while using Nazi salutes and shouting antisemitic slurs. 

See related: Board says antisemitic schoolyard video was part of 'TikTok challenge'

McDonald accepted the recognition on behalf of the citizens of North Bay, who he says came together to show "there is no place for hate in our city." 

The Mayor also gave special recognition to local Jewish business leaders, Chief of Police Scott Tod — who immediately spoke against hate-motivated crime and launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the video — and North Bay City Council members, who recently recognized May as Jewish Heritage Month and extended the City of North  Bay's observance to every May hereafter (see video below).

"I wouldn't even imagine that in today's day and age," responded McDonald when asked how he felt upon seeing the video last September. "We see racism when it comes to First Nations and people speak out against it but to actually see that video, that it happened in our community, was a pretty sad moment for us."

"It's an opportunity for us to educate everyone, including students," McDonald added. "I always believe it's not the problem that defines you, it's your reaction and solutions to make the issue top of mind, and correct it. I feel bad for all of the students that were caught up in all of this. Hopefully, they've learned a very important lesson that they'll remember for their lifetimes. I'm hoping these young students will be those leaders to speak out."

See also: Healing begins with education in wake of schoolyard antisemitism — Jewish community

B'nai Brith Canada is a Jewish service organization and advocacy group and is a chapter of B'nai Brith International. According to the group's annual audit, in 2021, there were 2,799 antisemitic incidents recorded, up 60 per cent over a five-year span. Violent antisemitic incidents increased from nine in 2020 to 75, nationally, with 29 of those in Ontario.

The Canadian chapter's CEO is Michael Mostyn who travelled to make the presentation and meet with municipal officials. 

"The entire North Bay community refused to be bystanders," when faced with the release of the video and subsequent coverage, said Mostyn. "You instead decided to take a stand against hate. You should all take pride in the fact that you've made North Bay 'seen' to other parts of the world as a welcoming place, welcoming in diversity, welcoming in differences, and a place that says 'hate has no room in North Bay. All religions here are welcome.'"

See also: Education or intervention? 'Extremely disturbing' video leads national experts to offer help

And: Algonquin stands with Jewish community on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Marvin Rotrand is a national director within B'nai Brith and said "this occasion will celebrate Al McDonald for his leadership in calling out antisemitism but it's also an award to the people of North Bay. Something ugly happened here but the response was the correct one from the community."

Rotrand added, "North Bay was in every newspaper in Canada for almost 10 days. That's a long news cycle. That was for the wrong reasons, that's not what you want for your town but the community rallied."

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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