The mother of a 10-year-old Black boy who was the victim of a racist attack last week in Russell Township says she's heartened by messages of support her family has received from people in the eastern Ontario community.
"Going through this is horrendous," she told CBC in an interview. "I just really appreciate everyone reaching out ... it's been amazing and has helped."
Her son is at home recovering from a broken arm after being assaulted by two white boys around the same age, one of whom the mother says repeatedly called the her son the N-word.
CBC is not identifying the family to protect the privacy of the youth involved.
The mother said many people have reached out through a family member who originally posted about the incident on social media, and said the mayor of Russell has also passed along supportive messages.
"I've been reading a lot of them to my son, just to let him know that there's a lot of really great people and kind people and they care," she said.
Mayor Pierre Leroux said the community is coming together to support the injured boy.
Leroux said community members started a fundraising campaign to help cover medical expenses, physiotherapists have offered free treatment, and there's talk of organizing a community walk and a drop-off site where people can leave letters for the family.
"[We want to] let this little boy know and let this family know that they're loved here," Leroux said. "We're proud to have them in our community."
Leroux also said the father of one of the boys involved in the attack contacted him to express remorse.
"I said to [the father], I appreciated the phone call, but that's a conversation we should be having with the [victim's] family," he said.
WATCH | Russell mayor says 'devastating' racist attack is a learning moment for the community:
Leroux said the incident is an opportunity for the community to come together to openly discuss the issue of racism.
"A lot of people thought that Russell Township was immune to this type of activity," Leroux said. "Obviously it's not."
Local resident Michel Belanger said he was disappointed to hear the attack took place in his community. But he said it's important not to overreact.
"The parents involved and the children involved will be educated about what has happened, and I'm sure lessons will be learned," Belanger said. "I don't see those things being repeated by those individuals."
Mother met with police
The injured boy's mother said she met Thursday with an inspector from the Russell County OPP detachment and a community liaison officer.
The meeting was arranged with the help of a Black community organization after the mother said police were slow to respond to the incident and accused one of the responding officers of being rude.
According to her, that officer originally told her the violent altercation was "consensual," and said it's not a crime to call someone the N-word.
"I don't want to discuss what we spoke about, but I did think the meeting was positive," she said of Thursday's meeting.
The OPP issued a news release about the incident on Wednesday confirming that its investigation determined the incident began when one child used a racial slur against another.
"The exchange then resulted in an assault with one child suffering a non-life threatening injury," the release said. "The OPP does not condone racism or bias in any respect and we are investigating the events that occurred."
Because all of the children involved were under the age of 12, no charges can be laid under Canadian law.
Police have said the families on both sides agreed to engage community support services offered by the local organizations Intersections and Valoris as an alternative measure to achieve justice through education.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.