Prince Edward Island welcomes Brooklyn Mavis

Teresa Wright
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Brooklyn Mavis, left, and her mother Melanie Mavis, walk with Paul Gauthier, Parkdale Sherwood Lions as they head to a reception at City Hall Wednesday. Following them is Jessica Todourk, friend, and Jodi Tucker, child advocate.

Community groups raise funds to give B.C. teen trip to the Island

Brooklyn Mavis says she is happy to finally make it to Prince Edward Island, but still wishes she could have come to the Island with her friends last month.

The 15 year old from British Columbia arrived in P. E. I. Wednesday as part of a community-fundraised effort to bring her to the Island after she was disallowed from taking part in a Society for Educational Visits and Exchanges in Canada ( SEVEC) class trip to the Island in May.

“I wanted to go on a plane with my friends, I wanted to go to the beaches with my friends,” she said Wednesday.

“It’s not the same. I’m not here with all my friends. It’ll just not be the same.”

Mavis’s exchange trip to P. E. I. was cancelled after she suffered a complex seizure during an outing with Island students on their part of the exchange in B. C. in April.

Mavis, who has autism and epilepsy, said at that time she felt harassed and discriminated by P. E. I.’ s English Language School Board in the negotiations over the trip that followed her seizure.

RELATED: Mother of B.C. teen with disabilities says they feel harrassed, intimidated by P.E.I. school board

In the end, her classmates came to P. E. I. without her.

But now, Mavis will have a chance to tour around the Island with her mother.

Local community groups and the City of Charlottetown organized a fundraising effort to bring her to the province.

Paul Gauthier of the Parkdale Sherwood Lion’s Club, said when they heard Mavis’ story in April, they felt they needed make her dream to come to the Island a reality.

“Her dream was to come to P. E. I. and it wasn’t going to be able to happen, and we wanted to be able to fulfil that dream.”

Local businesses donated gift certificates for dining and entertainment, a rental car and their hotel were also paid for a week of vacation in P. E. I.

The Lion’s club raised $ 3,000 for the plane tickets for Mavis and her mother, as well as the family’s advocate, Jodi Tucker, and her daughter.

While they are thrilled Mavis was given the opportunity to come to P. E. I. under such welcoming circumstances, Tucker says the family’s concerns are far from resolved.

“This is systemic discrimination, so what needs to happen is change, to help people understand what accountability is and inclusion is,” Tucker said.

“So we can right a wrong in terms of helping Brooklyn have an experience that she should have had in the first place.”

Mavis, her mother and Tucker will be requesting a meeting with the school board and with Education Minister Alan McIsaac while they are in P. E. I. in the hopes of addressing their concerns over Mavis’ allegations of discrimination and bullying.

“It would really be a lost opportunity if we weren’t able to sit in the same room with them, however, I can’t predict whether or not they will accept an invitation to meet,” Tucker said.

Regardless, she said she is happy to see Islanders have embraced Mavis’s story and rallied to make her trip to P. E. I. not only a reality, but also a really positive experience.

“I am absolutely stunned at the kind of support that we’ve received here and amount of people who recognize and understand what needed to happen,” Tucker said.

The City of Charlottetown held a welcoming reception for Mavis and her mother, Melanie Bowen, Wednesday afternoon at City Hall.

Bowen said she has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support she and her daughter have received from Islanders.

“There’s not enough days for all of the people that really wanted to see Brooklyn or do something for her,” Bowen said.

“(They) have proven the true spirit of P. E. I. and we’re very pleased to meet everybody that has come out to support Brooklyn. It’s really been overwhelming.”

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: P. E., Society for Educational Visits, B. C English Language School Board

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Charlottetown Canada Brooklyn Parkdale Sherwood Lion

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  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    June 19, 2014 - 10:15

    Great story . Nice to see the good will of Islanders shine through . It sort of leaves the school board with egg on their face along with our excuse for a minister of education . I would love to hear the out come of that meeting between them an the school board and the Minister of Education if it happens . I'm sure that the Minister will try skip and I really doubt the school board will be too eager to be there either they prefer behind closed door meetings . This has done more for promoting the island then the whole Tourism Dept in the past 10 years . All it took was a trip that the Education school board in their infinite wisdom dropped the ball on . Not to mention it didn't cost millions of dollars to promote either . Just goes to show the ones at the top are not always the brightest, if you feed something manure long enough it will out grow it's surroundings ..lol

  • don
    June 19, 2014 - 08:55

    Mavis you could have come down but due to a few adults being immature,ignorant,and just plain cowards. thats why you did not come down with your friends. i hope they say they are sorry to you in person but we know that will not happen due to the word cowards. i hope you get to s'side to see the other city and the beach's on PEI not just ch'town. most all islanders are good people but we have a few jerks. i hope you have a good time and come back again.