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Previously suspended Winnipeg school trustee resigns: board chair

Francine Champagne, who represents Ward 1 in the Louis Riel School Division, was suspended during a board meeting on June 6, 2023. (Source: Louis Riel School Division) Francine Champagne, who represents Ward 1 in the Louis Riel School Division, was suspended during a board meeting on June 6, 2023. (Source: Louis Riel School Division)
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A Manitoba school trustee previously suspended for social media posts targeting the LGBTQ2S+ community has tendered her resignation.

The Louis Riel School Division School Board held a special meeting Tuesday to discuss a letter of resignation submitted by Francine Champagne.

Board chair Sandy Nemeth said Champagne submitted the letter to her on Monday and that the resignation was effective immediately.

Champagne did not attend the meeting and all other trustees voted in favour of accepting the resignation.

Champagne was originally suspended in June by the school board for social media posts that the board said were targeting the LGBTQ2S+ community.

"They are just not who we are in Louis Riel and certainly not who we are as a board," Nemeth previously said in an interview with CTV News Winnipeg.

Champagne had been suspended for three months.

In a statement, the board of trustees said that over the past several months they have worked to hold their colleague accountable for her words, and to reassure the community of the board’s commitment to creating safe learning environments.

“We want to reassure you that actions and language that cause harm will never be tolerated, and decisive action will always be taken against anyone who attempts to spread baseless, malicious, deceitful and vengeful lies about our students, staff, and families,” the statement said.

The school board noted that it will continue to do everything possible to protect students, staff and families.

CHAMPAGNE SPEAKS OUT

Champagne released a statement on Wednesday, saying she was committed to serving the people, but the work environment became “unbearable.”

She noted that gender issues have become a topic of debate all over North America.

Champagne went on to say that in June she was accused of breaching the board code of conduct for posts she made on her personal Facebook. She said she believes she was wrongfully accused.

She said the code of conduct states that trustees must “refrain from expressing opinions and/or sharing information through social media that would discredit, undermine or compromise the integrity of the Board.”

Champagne then questioned how expressing “traditional views” goes against this code, adding that she was not targeting the board, but was just voicing an opinion that reflects her values.

“I maintained a good working relationship with all trustees throughout my first year within LRSD, just like with all other positions I have held in the past,” she said.

“As someone who very much values people and their ideas, I tend to shy away from conflict and drama. Professionalism and integrity have always been part of my work ethic.”

Champagne ended her statement by thanking those who voted for her and who inspired her during her mandate. 

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