New Brunswick Premier Condemns ‘Brutal Attack’ on Jewish Teen; 16-Year-Old Girl Arrested

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The alleged attack of a 14-year-old Jewish girl attending a Fredericton, New Brunswick, high school has spurred provincial leaders to meet with her Israeli-Canadian family on the same day police arrested a teenage girl in connection with the incident.

Premier Blaine Higgs described the incident as “an example of blatant antisemitism” after meeting with the parents of Shaked Tsurkan, a Grade 9 student at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton.

“I hope that both school and police authorities will continue to get to the bottom of this, and punish all who were involved in this brutal attack,” Mr. Higgs said in a May 17 X post.

The altercation, which occurred April 30, became news this week after the girl’s family recounted details of the alleged attack to the Canadian Jewish News. Shaked’s family told the outlet she was attacked by an older female Muslim student for being Jewish.

The alleged assault occurred during lunch period in a parking lot away from school grounds.

A video of the altercation, which was posted on social media, shows a female charging at Shaked from behind, forcing her to the ground, and punching her repeatedly. The struggle that ensued was watched and filmed by multiple bystanders before an adult intervened more than a minute later.

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A 16-year-old female from Fredericton was arrested in connection with the altercation and “has since been released on conditions, and charges are currently pending,” the Fredericton Police Force said in a May 17 press release.

The incident remains under “active investigation” by the force’s Major Crime Unit.

“Investigations of this nature can be complex and take time. They are conducted based on facts and evidence, not on rumors or speculations,” the police said in a May 16 statement.

Anglophone School District West spokesperson Paul MacIntosh said school administration “promptly addressed” the incident with “utmost seriousness” after the police notified the school of the assault.

“Actions taken at the school level included gathering information from students and assessing safety requirements & the wellbeing of all students involved,” Mr. MacIntosh said in a May 16 statement on the board’s website.

He said the board couldn’t share “specifics of the incident,” including the precursors to the event and the subsequent conversations with students and parents.

“That said, we can categorically confirm that the adults portrayed in this video are not teachers or staff members of Leo Hayes High School,” Mr. MacIntosh said.

Shaked told the Canadian Jewish News her alleged attacker was suspended from school for five days. Upon the student’s return, Shaked was reportedly told to use the teacher’s washroom, to remain inside the school during the day, and not to walk alone.

Call for Change

Jewish advocacy group B'nai Brith Canada condemned the alleged assault, calling it “unprovoked.”

“This incident underscores why it’s crucial to report acts of violence and hate to B’nai Brith so that we can achieve consequences against the perpetrators,” the group said in a May 15 X post, adding that it is working with Shaked’s family “in seeking justice.”

Mr. Higgs commended Shaked’s parents for “wanting to be agents of positive change.”

“They spoke of how we can increase awareness of antisemitism in our schools, to help others combat this discrimination, and draw people together,” he said. “I was moved by their humility and grace, and I agree we can do more.”

Mr. Higgs was joined in the meeting by Minister of Education Bill Hogan, and Canadian Future Party interim leader Dominic Cardy. He said it grieves him that a girl was “attacked recently for apparently no reason other than she was Jewish.”

Shaked and her family moved to Fredericton from Israel in November 2022. She began attending Grade 9 at Leo Hayes High School last fall.

B'nai Brith Canada, in its newly-released report on anti-Semitic incidents in 2023, said multiple conflicts in Israel led to an unprecedented rise in anti-Semitism in Canada.

“Two separate periods of sustained levels of heightened incitement, first in May and June, and then from October to December, contributed to an alarming 109.1% increase in antisemitic incidents from 2022,” B'nai Brith Canada director of research and advocacy Richard Robertson wrote in the report’s introduction.

“The 5,791 incidents of antisemitism in 2023 captured by B’nai Brith Canada represent the worst year ever recorded in the history of our Audit.”

Incidents have surged since the violent Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel that left 1,200 dead, resulting in a counter-attack by the Jewish nation. War has been raging in Gaza ever since with the exception of a brief ceasefire last November.

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