A Royal Canadian Legion in Cranbrook, B.C., is in the middle of a controversy after it printed a so-called "joke" in its newsletter that described hunters killing aboriginal men, then getting arrested — not for murder, but for using beer as bait.
Cranbrook legion member Shirley Green — a Cree and Ktunaxa woman — says she was shocked when she read it in the newsletter and called to complain.
"My voice was shaking," said the 77-year-old. "I was very upset."
The "joke" was removed and replaced with the explanation that while it had offended one reader it was just meant to get a laugh.
'Unfortunately these people have thrown a large stone into a pond and they are going to have to deal with the ripples.' — Shirley Green
"I think it belittles their contribution," she said. "It objectifies them as sub-human and only to be used for target practice."
At a Calgary legion, the joke didn't even get a smirk from 87-year-old vet Verne Brewer.
"Not funny at all," he said.
He fought alongside native men in the Second World War.
"The aboriginals fought a great war and they did it without joking," he said.
Volunteer made a mistake, says legion head
Among those saying "not funny" is Inga Kruse, the head of B.C.'s legion command.
"This is not the legion," she said.
Kruse says the joke was appalling, and was used as filler mistakenly by one volunteer.
"I feel that our organization needs to be heard that we do not stand for that sort of thing," she said.
Kruse says usually legions are autonomous, but this time she's had to step in and advise against jokes in newsletters.
John McDonald, president of the Aboriginal Veterans Society of Alberta, agrees the volunteer made a big mistake.
"Absolutely not funny at all, it’s disgusting," he said.
McDonald suggests that everyone just move on, but Green says she's not satisfied with the newsletter's retraction.
"Unfortunately these people have thrown a large stone into a pond and they are going to have to deal with the ripples," she said.