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BEPPLE – Everybody, including our MP, needs to speak up about racist sign

Racist graffiti sprayed and inked on sign. (Image: Jeffrey McNeil, Facebook)

IT IS WHAT IS NOT SAID, as much as what is, that matters.

What was said a few days back, spray painted on a sign in Lac La Bois, was hateful and vile.  Hateful words of “Fuck Indians” against First Nations, and vile statements of “White Power.”

On Canada Day, Jeffrey McNeil of Kamloops brought the vandalism of the sign to light on his Facebook. The vandalism was a stark reminder that Kamloops is not immune to racism and hate.

McNeil’s post was widely shared by over 2,000.  As well, local media covered the story extensively.  Local First Nations’ leaders including Chief Ron Ignace of Skeetchestn First Nation and Chief Ryan Day of the Bonaparte Indian Band condemned the vandalism of the sign both with local media and on social media.

Not only First Nations leaders but people from across the community spoke out on social media against the vandalism.  Hundreds from business people to volunteer firemen, from university professors to archeologists, from retirees to stay-at-home parents spoke out.  While there will be those who are cheering for the vandals of the sign, at least in the circles I follow, of all political stripes, there is condemnation.

Politicians have a unique role, of stating the direction a community should go on issues.  On issues around hate and racism, there is only one way, and that is to speak out against the perpetrators and, as was the case of Chief Day who called for education, look for ways to support more positive community values.

Thank goodness for the leadership of Chief Ignace and Chief Day, because many other leaders have been silent.

As of this column’s writing, MP Cathy McLeod has been silent on both Facebook and Twitter.  It’s amazing that this level of hate can go unnoticed.  And yet, she has posted nothing on either social media site on this most blatant attack.

Her Canada Day posts were of happy Canadians, in red shirt.  Pictures of her and other politicians cutting cake.  Nothing then or since on the vandalized sign.

To think that McLeod, who is the Official Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Indigenous and Northern Affairs, doesn’t understand First Nations’ issues is hard to fathom.  There’s no way that she isn’t aware of the systematic racism that First Nations’ have faced, and still do.   As a nation, we’ve gone through (or more correctly continue to go through) Truth and Reconciliation.

And yet she has been silent.

McLeod does post about First Nations issues.  On National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, she posted a tweet that it was a “#NationalIndigenousPeoplesDay….Beautiful start to morning.”

If she can see beauty in what is First Nations, then why didn’t she post on July 1, “#CanadaDay Horrific end to the day” along with a picture of the vandalized sign?

One might argue that Facebook and Twitter aren’t the place for politicians to condemn this type of behaviour.  Some would argue that politicians shouldn’t use social media to speak out against racial attacks on First Nations’ or statements on white power.

Maybe McLeod doesn’t talk about things that offend her on social media.

But on June 20, McLeod posted of her dislike of a Canadian flag depicting the maple leaf as a marijuana leaf.  How, if she was so offended by a marijuana leaf, would she not be outraged by the vandalism on the sign?  How is a single plant leaf worth a tweet but the far more offensive than “Fuck Indians” and “White Power” gets no mention from McLeod?

I’ve seen Canadian like flags for Pride, with a Haida theme, and in all types of colours.  No different than seeing an American flag with guns replacing the stars: people have the right to make different artistic depictions.  None are hateful or racist.

If a marijuana leaf causes McLeod to feel offended, how could the sign not?

A lot of politicians’ social media is taken up with cutting cakes and kissing babies.  It is light hearted fodder that shows the community the politicians are out and about.  A bit of self-promotion thrown in for good measure.

I have no problem with McLeod or any other politician posting pictures of happy people wearing red shirts and maple leaf tattoos on Canada Day.   As a past politician, I’ve done as much myself.

But what matters more, is how politicians react to how others are treated in our community.

The person who vandalized the sign in Lac La Bois has chosen their path of hate.  But people like Jeffrey McNeil have chosen to shine light, by giving voice to all those in our community who stand against racism and hate. Leaders like Chief Ignace and Chief Day provide guidance.

McLeod’s silence is a voice for ignoring racism, and turning away from hatred.

I look forward to hearing McLeod speak.

Nancy Bepple is a former city councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.

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About Mel Rothenburger (5861 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on BEPPLE – Everybody, including our MP, needs to speak up about racist sign

  1. tony brumell // July 4, 2018 at 10:51 AM // Reply

    In reply to monsees crap :::WOW !!! Talk about verbal diarrhia. The creeps that put these slurs up are jumping on an new opportunity to slam anyone but themselves .These creeps suffer from self hatred and self loathing as much as the rest of us do from the hate they perpetrate.. To
    remain silent is to do nothing and is as repugnant as the racial slurs that are being promulgated by the new racial identity of the new right (Trump /Ford) in governments.
    To Chief Ignace and Chief Day I am sorry that so little progress has been made in truth and reconcilliation.I believe that the clouded minds can be changed but it will not happen soon.We must keep up our collective efforts.

  2. Dave Monsees // July 4, 2018 at 7:41 AM // Reply

    Was this a slam against this Racism, or are you an opportunist seeking your own grab at some publicity by noticing the perhaps Mcleod was busy on something else, and didn’t jump into the pot of hatred and make statements that everyone knows how she would feel, and having verbal
    diarrhrea just to be popular.So tell me something positive that can be done to rectify this hatred rather than just talking about it as you are so able to do?

  3. There was a reason you were voted out of office. Try and stay gone would you. Your just stirring the pit for Kathy or whoever would ‘ve in her chair right now, for your own political positioning. Those of us that still remember your actions and inactions during your time with councils should be able to read right through your weak and sad words.

    While I agree the sign in its appearance is grotesquely sickening, please don’t try and paint it as a under bro I d movement of gate towards natives. There is no radical movement afoot to spew hate and violence against anyone in the Kamloops area. Chances are, given the artistic skill selected in the picture, this is probally no more than dumb kids or teenagers tagging the sign for shock value. Youth have been doing such things for a long time. A act of defiance to show how different they are from what they perceive as suffocating rules that stifle them.

    When this city experiences a true hate crime that’s clearly a hate crime, and not someone’s interpretation of an event that “Could be considered a hate crime”. Well that when stories such as yours will be needed.

    And now I wonder if you’ll allow this opinion to be published here……

    JB

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