“It appears certain inferences are being drawn from the contents of a recent internal bulletin relating to accommodation for flight crews on overnight layover in Winnipeg,” Peter Fitzpatrick said Monday in an email to The Canadian Press.
“Air Canada wishes to state categorically it had no intent to cause offence to any individual or group and apologizes if it inadvertently did so.”
The internal bulletin said employees will be staying at a hotel closer to the airport because of security concerns downtown and noted that 1,000 displaced people from rural Manitoba are staying in hotels in Winnipeg's core.
“Instances of public intoxication, resulting in several downtown locations being susceptible to crimes of violence and opportunity, have been observed by local police,” the bulletin said.
Many of the displaced are from First Nations that were flooded last spring.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. They’re picking on the First Nations people who’ve been flooded out,” said Lake St. Martin Chief Adrian Sinclair, according to the QMI news agency.
Nepinak called the airline irresponsible, ignorant and racist for sending out the memo, QMI said. Although he knows of “certain specific individual people” who made trouble, he said, they had been kicked out.
“I think it’s unfair to characterize any one group of people with broad strokes,” Nepinak said to QMI. “It is entirely inappropriate for one of Canada’s largest corporations to link the presence of First Nations citizens in Winnipeg’s downtown core with any increased security risk. To attribute any community of people as posing an increased risk of violence or criminal activity is just, plain and simple, racist.”
Although Nepinak said an apology from the airline “would absolutely go a long way,” he rejected the one that Air Canada did offer, calling it halfhearted.
For more Canadian stereotyping of Indians, see Callaloo Stereotypes "Native Americas" and Eska Water's Stereotypical Ad Campaign.