"I'm shocked and appalled that somebody can write something like that and think that it was right and acceptable to say it," said Mayor Gavin van der Linde.
"We can have our opinions about what people do and that's fine. But the tone and the words he chose to use were totally unacceptable."
The editorial in the Morris Mirror, written by editor-in-chief Reed Turcotte and published in the current edition, states that "in some cases, natives are acting like terrorists in their own country. Indians/Natives want it all but corruption and laziness prevent some of them from working for it."
On the same page is a cartoon depicting a traditional First Nation person holding a small campfire in his hand and sending out smoke signals.
The caption on the cartoon states: “Before they were partially wiped out by white men’s diseases, the Canadian Indian had a highly evolved society built around the world’s first cellphone.”
Turcotte, who said he has received about 37 inquiries from media outlets across North America, has since issued an apology. He said a special edition of the paper will be published Friday.
But van der Linde calls the apology weak and meaningless.
"It was an attempt at an apology. He then went and tried to justify himself and so in my opinion, that's no apology at all," van der Linde said.
"If you apologize, just apologize, you don't have to go and re-justify your opinion."
The most obvious question is: How is it relevant to show an Indian from hundreds of years ago in a debate about today's Indians? Answer: It isn't. This cartoon does nothing except insinuate that Indians are primitive and barbaric compared to white men. Not only then, but now.
Even as an attempt to belittle Indians of the past, the cartoon fails. Some Indians did use smoke signals--and that system was more advanced than any communications used contemporaneously by white men. Primitive Euro-Americans didn't have anything better than hand-carried messages until Alter invented the telegraph in 1836.
In other words, for most of their existence, Indians had better communications technology than the white man.
'Racist' view getting support, rural Manitoba editor says
Morris Mirror editor-in-chief Reed Turcotte estimates that 75 per cent of the feedback he has received is from people who support his position.
In a one-paragraph comment, which appeared earlier this week in the Mirror, Turcotte gave a "thumbs down" to the Idle No More movement and wrote that some aboriginals "are demanding unrealistic expectations of the government and … in some cases, natives are acting like terrorists in their own country. Indians/natives want it all but corruption and laziness prevent some of them from working for it."
The comment grabbed national headlines and sparked outrage from several people, including Morris Mayor Gavin van der Linde, who said he was "shocked and appalled."
In the wake of the reaction on Thursday, Turcotte wrote, "We apologize to those we offended in that regards; however, we stand by the fact that the natives must work to get out of their situation rather than sit 'Idle No More.'"
The ongoing furor then prompted him to publish a special edition of the Mirror on Friday, in which he included 15 letters supporting his position and seven opposed.
Turcotte also printed a followup editorial stating that he believes "citizens, whether they are native or otherwise, have the right to protest and try and make their lives better."
The special edition also features a number of letters from readers, both in favour and against the editorial and cartoon (though more than half are in favour).
"I heard on the news this morning about your article regarding aboriginals being lazy.. [sic] I would just like to say congratulations for having the guts to say what everyone else is thinking," one of the letters reads.
In a letter of his own, the town's Mayor Gavin van der Linde, who has loudly denounced Turcotte's work, calls the cartoon and editorial " inappropriate and racist" and characterizes the editor's apology as "weak and meaningless."
On CBC's "Power And Politics" earlier this week, van der Linde said the print edition of the Mirror actually featured a more offensive version of the editorial. Turcotte told CTV News that the phrase "a type of paganism" was removed from the cartoon for the online version, according to The Canadian Press.
Morris Mirror--January 21, 2013
If a majority of Canadians think aboriginal people get too much support from taxpayers, what does that tell you? That aboriginal people actually do get too much support from taxpayers? Or that a majority of Canadians are ignorant if not racist?
I'd say the latter. Note that Turcotte hasn't even considered this possibility. He apparently thinks the "truth" is whatever the majority believes.
White man enforced dependence
A columnist answers the "laziness" charge that so many Canadians believe:
Racism, hunger and laziness: A First Nations youth perspective on Idle No More media coverage
By Sasha Chabot Gaspe
In particular, I'm struck by the repeated accusation of the laziness of First Nations people. The hypocrisy of such a characterization is astounding. In fact, few Canadians have taken any time to find out the facts, preferring instead to regurgitate the racist stereotypes that we've been fed by the media and the mainstream education system for generations.
As one commentator pointed out, it's 2013 and it's time for us to collectively grow up: Canadians, do your research and educate yourselves about the gross injustices, oppression, colonization, and frankly illegal activity perpetrated by the Canadian government against Aboriginal people for centuries.
It will quickly become clear that the dependency you sometimes see in Aboriginal communities, what you short-sightedly identify as laziness, was in fact deliberately created by your government through policy and legislation.
Finally, educate yourselves about Residential schools--you'll soon understand the depth of physical and sexual abuse experienced by the over 100,000 Aboriginal children who were forced to attend these schools, in addition to the feelings of worthlessness and shame these children were made to feel towards their culture, their traditions, and the colour of their skin. You'll come to realize that the type of education given at these schools was intended to create a poor labouring class. You'll quickly discover that the last residential school was closed in 1996, a mere 17 years ago. And you'll understand that the intergenerational effects of the horrific traumas experienced at these schools are the reasons for the social problems you see now in many Aboriginal communities.
Hopefully, once you've done this research, you'll feel compassion, and you'll realize that centuries of abuse and oppression don't merely go away in the blink of an eye. It takes time--some might even say it takes seven generations.