The recent defacement of a sign on Secwepemc (Shuswap) territory near Kamloops with racist comments has drawn condemnation from many people and groups, including the Government of British Columbia.
The slogans—which included white supremacist phrases such as “white is right” and “white power”, along with an obscenity—appeared early last week on a sign welcoming mushroom pickers to Secwepemc territory near Lac Du Bois. In June 2015 a sign beside Highway 1 near Savona welcoming people to the Skeetchestn Indian Band was down, on National Aboriginal Day. The sign has since been restored.
The defaced sign contained advice for mushroom harvesters in the Elephant Hill wildfire area and was put in place by multiple First Nations, including the Skeetchestn, Whispering Pines, and Bonaparte Bands, all of which are issuing mushroom picking permits.
Skeetchestn Chief Ron Ignace called the racist sayings “sick”, while Wayne Christion, chair of the Shuswap First Nations Tribal Council, issued a statement saying that in moving forward a commitment is needed “from the highest level of government to local community organizations to speak about and act upon what respect and inclusion look like.
“We have just been served a hatred-filled reality check from a portion of Canadian society.”
Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, issued a statement saying that “The Government of British Columbia denounces and condemns in the strongest possible terms the racist vandalism of Secwepemc Nation signs.
“This ignorant, cowardly, and reprehensible act is contrary to the values of our government and the people of British Columbia and Canada.
“Our government is focused on a new relationship with Indigenous peoples—one built on partnership, respect, and recognition of rights.
“We are committed to fighting racism and bigotry in all its forms, and upholding the commitments and principles of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“Racism and bigotry will not be tolerated, and is not reflective of who we are. Hatred will only win if we remain silent. We must work together to build a better future for all British Columbians.”