P.E.I. councillor suspended, fined $500 for posting anti-Indigenous sign

Confederation Bridge

The Confederation Bridge seen from a beach on P.E.I. Photo: Angel Moore/APTN.

A municipal councillor in eastern Prince Edward Island has been ordered to pay a $500 fine for displaying a sign on his property denying the existence of residential school graves.

The council in Murray Harbour has also suspended John Robertson for six months and ordered him to write a letter of apology.

Chief administrative officer Anne Harnesk confirmed Thursday that Robertson has until Friday to comply with the council’s orders, which were drafted last month after an independent investigation was conducted by a former Mountie.

In October, Robertson displayed a sign with the message, “Truth: mass grave hoax” and “Reconciliation: Redeem Sir John A.’s integrity” ahead of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Robertson could not be reached for comment.

Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, is considered the architect of Confederation and of the residential school system. He championed policies of assimilation and violence toward Indigenous people.

In May 2021, the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced that ground-penetrating radar had revealed the possible remains of as many as 215 children around the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia’s Interior. Since then, many other First Nations across Canada have searched school sites in their territories for graves.

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On Nov. 18, council held a special meeting to discuss whether Robertson had breached its code of conduct, and the resulting sanctions included his removal from the municipality’s infrastructure maintenance committee.

Harnesk said if the councillor fails to comply with council’s orders, the mayor and the province’s communities minister will decide what to do next.

Murray Harbour is home to less than 300 people.

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