The northwestern Ontario town of Kenora is getting plenty of attention these days but for all the wrong reasons.
A Facebook post in a Kenora rant and rave group said people from nearby Whitedog – currently gripped by a COVID-19 outbreak – were not isolating.
Whitedog is one of three communities that make up Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, the other two being One Man Lake and Swan Lake.
A comment below that, accused them of traveling more than an hour to Kenora, to spit on produce at grocery stores to spread the virus.
Tania Cameron took a screenshot of the wild claim, and shared it on her Facebook page as an example of anti-Indigenous rhetoric.
“There sure are garbage people with ugly hearts in #Kenora. We got to rise above their hate,” Cameron shared. “I don’t know these people but if they’re on your friends list, please delete me. #WabaseemoongStrong
However, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) then contacted her to remove the posts, saying the commenter was getting threats.
“Those words have an impact because Indigenous people are going into town and they’re doing their business, they’re getting their groceries because we have no other place to get our groceries. So we all go into Kenora and we’re getting that feeling of uneasiness, we’re not, our comfort level where we feel safe in our community isn’t there because of these small minded individuals expressing such hateful news,” said Cameron in an interview with APTN News.
Cameron says they have contacted her two more times since, hoping she could get people to stop the backlash against the non-Indigenous commenter.
“We would do that in any scenario, whoever the complainant was. We respond to calls that we get and try to mitigate the situation. This is not something that was a proactive approach on our part to call and ask to take that post down. It was a complaint received from the public that we were investigating and responded to,” said Inspector Jeff Duggan, Kenora OPP Detachment Commander.
Duggan added that dealing with this type of call is the last thing anybody wants, especially during a pandemic.
“Unfortunately we’re dealing with a pandemic and we’re dealing with an outbreak in a community. Now we’re forced with mending the relationship between the communities because of some things that were said on social media and I don’t think that’s really where our focus should be.”
Cameron feels an Indigenous woman would not get the same level of service from police if she said something offensive online and received backlash.
Duggan said he does not believe the woman is related to anyone in the OPP, something that had been widely speculated as why police were so concerned.
He added there is an incident open regarding the threats made to the woman who commented but there were no charges or investigations into the comments themselves.
Meanwhile, because of the post, some First Nations people have come forward saying they have been denied services at certain stores in Kenora.
Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, the Grand Council of Treaty Three and even Indigenous Services Canada Minister Marc Miller weighed in online saying the racism must end.
Cameron said she just wanted to call these people out.
“You know what, the only attention I wanted was to shine a light on some of the racist and hateful views that are expressed you know and that’s all I was doing.
“I did not put words and you know there was two women that expressed view and I was just shining a light on how ugly people’s views in this town can be,” Cameron said.
The woman who posted the comment works with Firefly, a company that provides a variety services for children, youth and families in northwestern Ontario, many of whom are Indigenous
The company said an investigation is ongoing to determine to determine if any discipline will happen to the employee.