BC mayor denounces ‘racist rhetoric’ directed at First Nations amid COVID-19 outbreak


A Vancouver Island mayor issued a stunning open letter after observing what he calls unacceptable racism in his community linked to COVID-19.
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring took to Facebook on Sunday to call for the response of some community members to a COVID outbreak in the Cowichan Tribal First Nation.

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The country issued a shelter-in-place order on Wednesday and said on Friday it had identified 39 cases in 19 households since the first case on January 1.

Siebring said the information resulted in blatantly racist online posts and an ‘us / them’ mentality.

“I am angry today. Very angry, ”he wrote.

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According to Siebring, some members of the community have called on off-reserve businesses to fire members of the Cowichan tribes.

“These people are racism. Clear and simple. And it is wrong.

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The mayor then praised the Cowichan tribes for their transparency in posting information about COVID-19 in his community.

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That same information is not released by the province or Island Health, and elected leaders like him don’t always have access to it, he said.

“And how is this transparency rewarded? With racist rhetoric that even included the notion that “these Indians” should just go back to hunting and fishing and being kept away from our community.

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“NOT ONCE during (the 10 months before the First Nation had its first case) have we ever heard of tribal members examining every non-Indigenous person assuming they had COVID.”

The mayor ends his self-proclaimed “rant” by asking the community to call out racist comments when she sees them.

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The existing Cowichan Tribe Shelter remains in effect until January 22, and access to the reserve remains limited to essential visitors.

Members are urged to get tested if they show any symptoms or if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive.

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