Iqaluit City Councilor Malaiya Lucassie resigned the group on Oct. 14 following a city council meeting she didn’t attend.
If she had of joined her colleagues, she would have been part of a 90 minute closed door meeting that resulted in a unanimous vote of council to demand her resignation.
Lucassie was under fire from her fellow councilors for a comment she made on her father’s Facebook page.
Nunavut MLA Patterk Netser posted on Facebook wondering how many Black Lives Matter supporters have had abortions.
She had the first comment on the post, writing “I had the exact same thought this morning.”
Netser’s comments ended up with Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq stripping him of all cabinet portfolios. Lucassie’s agreement was enough to be asked to leave city council.
In her note of resignation, Lucassie wrote, “The city has portrayed me as an Inuk with a racist attitude.”
Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell disagrees.
“We had nothing to do with what she posted online, I was kind of shocked that she said that in the first place,” Bell said. “I reached out to her, she didn’t respond. It’s a little bit weird to blame the city for something you did personally.”
When contacted by APTN News, Lucassie asked for us to submit questions in advance.
She wrote via text, “Please send me the questions before hand. I have alot (sic) of news reporters who want to speak with me.”
APTN doesn’t provide questions in advance. She never texted back.
Lucassie’s colleagues on council didn’t hold back in their meeting.
In the motion calling for her resignation, Councillor Romeyn Stevenson said, “The council does not condone racism or gender violence and does not accept a world where such comments, or comments such as those made over the weekend, are let go without censure.”
Deputy Mayor Janet Brewster was also direct, and made her own statement.
“Diversity in discussion is important, but there is a fine line between an informed and uninformed opinion,” explained Brewster, adding “Even in matters of opinion, critical thinking and credible sources for your information is crucial, otherwise it can and does lead to confusion and harm.”
Lucassie’s apology to Iqaluit’s Black community had a notable caveat, “if I have offended you,” she wrote, “I would like to first apologize to the Black community, if I have offended you and sounded like a racist, I am sincerely sorry.”
She insisted her original comments were about rallying for Indigenous causes, not downplaying Black Lives Matter.
“I am not against anyone or the BLM Movement. I support and understand the movement as a member of a minority,” she wrote.
Then, she circled back to her original comments that followed her.
“I had the exact same thought this morning. I wondered why the City of Iqaluit did a BLM protest earlier this year when [George] Floyd was murdered by an officer. And than (sic) I thought why is there not a movement for indigenous folks. A mother of 7 was just murdered by nurses to what I read. All lives matter. Why don’t we do something for everyone and not just BLM.”
In the subsequent apology, she wrote, “All I tried to say and sorry if it was misinterpreted is, why did we not have anything done for the lives of Inuit that have been murdered, raped, and abused? Why was there no such movement?”
As for “if I offended you” and “sorry if it was misinterpreted”, Bell says accepting that apology is up to each individual Iqaluit resident.
“It’s up to everybody to take what they take from it,” said Mayor Bell. “To me, it really wasn’t taking ownership of the situation. The apology didn’t seem sincere to me.”
However; Bell does accept that Lucassie has been affected by all the questioning. “I do know [former] Councilor Lucassie, I do know she is upset about this situation. Sometimes written word is a different thing than what you’re actually feeling. All of us say the wrong thing from time to time.”