A Vancouver Island newspaper is under fire for printing a “racist” letter that takes aim at First Nations people.
A noon hour rally in front of the Nanaimo Daily News office requested a retraction and front-page apology about the readers’ diatribe and “hateful messages” that were printed by editorial staff.
“The Nanaimo Daily News has repeatedly printed racist letters against Indigenous peoples,” a Facebook invitation for the rally reads.
“The latest letter printed has been met with an outcry from the public against their continued willingness to unapologetically print racist views against Indigenous peoples.”
The letter by Don Olsen published Wednesday is headlined ‘Educate First Nations to be modern citizens’ and says indigenous people have a history only notable “for underachievement.”
Olsen says First Nations have “never had a written language,” “had no science or scientific discoveries” and only “Only figured out a drum and a rattle for musical instruments.”
The letter says First Nations aren’t responsible enough to look after themselves and “efficiently spend the billions the tax payers give them,” ending that Canada should “do away with this traditional use and cultural nonsense.”
“Instead of finding their identity and source of pride in some folks who occupied the land 15,000 years ago. Let them stand or fall on their own account. Just like the rest of us have to do.”
The contentious letter has since been yanked from the website.
Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo is among the many people critical of the letter, calling it “outrageous.”
“The outside example of the deep disconnect, misunderstanding and ignorance of First Nations people from coast to coast to coast – the kind of thinking that has created the advent of the Indian Act, that led to the establishment of residential schools, the removal of children from families and homes,” Atleo told CTV News.
In an online post, Thrifty Foods said it would remove its online ads from the publication.
The Nanaimo Daily News issued an apology on its website Thursday, acknowledging the letter “caused considerable consternation among some of our readers.”
“While we would defend Mr. Olsen’s right to hold and express his opinion, the sentiments expressed were entirely his own and in no way reflect the views of the newspaper,” said Division Manager Hugh Nicholson.
“The letter should not have run.”