REGINA – Three Regina high schools and one in Saskatoon have pulled out of a cheerleading competition after threats were made against West Edmonton Mall in an online video.
And that has one mother suggesting the terrorists have won.
The video purportedly came from the Al-Shabab group and urges Muslims to attack malls including the Mall of America in Minneapolis and the one in Edmonton.
Denise Fisher of the Alberta Cheerleading Association says a dozen teams have pulled out of the competition scheduled for this coming weekend.
They include Campbell Collegiate, Balfour Collegiate and Winston Knoll Collegiate in Regina, and Bethlehem High School in Saskatoon.
Tina Caderna says her daughter, Trinity, was panicked when told about the cancellation, as she is serious about her cheerleading and trains for 30 hours a week.
“Whoever it was that posted that video has now won because we’re making a decision not to go based on the surfacing of that video naming West Edmonton Mall,” says Caderna.
The Regina Public School Division says it had heard from some parents who were concerned about the trip and would not be sending their children to the competition.
“The school division determined that due to the parents’ safety concerns and because we the school division can’t ensure the safety of the students travelling to the event, that we would not be participating as a school division,” explains Terry Lazarou, supervisor of communications with the school division.
Caderna, whose daughter also competes on another squad, says she will drive her daughter to Edmonton if she has to.
“This is something that she’s been doing for a long time and it wasn’t even an option not to go,” she says. “We were going, regardless.”
The Edmonton competition is a qualifier for cheerleaders to go to the 2015 World Cheerleading Championships in Florida in April.
The association’s website says the mall’s administration has confirmed “there will be significantly increased mall and police presence in the mall during the competition, although many will be plain-clothes officers.”
It also says the cheerleading association has contracted some additional security of its own, and has been working with an independent company to have onsite first aid and to ensure that its response plans align with West Edmonton Mall’s plans.
The event promises to feature 3,200 athletes representing 180 teams from British Columbia to Ontario.