By Lisa Arrowsmith
Chief Guy Lonechild said Friday he was shocked and saddened when he heard that Jim Pankiw, who says he intends to re-enter federal politics, had likened an aboriginal headdress he was wearing in a newspaper photo to the garb worn by the Ku Klux Klan.
"I felt sorry for Mr. Pankiw that he still held those kind of views and is seeking public office," Lonechild said, adding that no more public attention should be paid to this issue.
The headdresses worn by aboriginal leaders is considered sacred and signify that the chiefs are carrying the responsibility of their people, Lonechild said. They were also worn by aboriginal leaders throughout history, including those who signed treaties with the federal government and helped to create Canada, Lonechild said.
He didn't think the comparison with members of the Ku Klux Klan was fair.
"Klan members in times past looked to hide their identities, looked to cover up their true identities. We wear our identity very proudly, so I think it's exactly the opposite of the message that the Ku Klux Klan has, in terms of their intolerance of other people," Lonechild said.
"It was very, very bad judgement on the part of a former member of Parliament."
He told reporters that aboriginal chiefs "want a bunch of special privileges based on their ancestry" and added that he doesn't want a "racially segregated society where your ancestry determines what you get."
When asked if his views could be racist, he referred to Lonechild's photo and said, "guy with a big headband thing on, feathers and stuff, if there was a guy with a white sheet with holes in the eyes, wouldn't you say that guy's a racist?"
When asked whether he was comparing the chief to a member of the Ku Klux Klan, Pankiw replied "absolutely, they are racists."
For more on the subject, see Sask. MP Decries "Race-Based Privileges" and "Handouts" and The Facts About Tribal Sovereignty.