First Nations chief sees positive reaction to racist Kijiji ad

Kimberly Jonathan, the interim chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, sees a silver lining in the overwhelming reaction to a racist ad.

Interim FSIN chief Kimberly Jonathan says the response has been 'heartwarming'

Interim chief of the FSIN, Kimberly Jonathan, says she is heartened to see the support against racism that has emerged after a racist ad was taken down off Kijiji. (CBC)

The interim chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), Kimberly Jonathan, sees a silver lining in the overwhelming reaction to a racist ad: an outpouring of support against racism.

A recent ad for a three-bedroom home in Prince Albert on Kijiji said "no natives please" and "will not consider aboriginals".

It also said those receiving social assistance and stay-at-home moms would not be considered.

"We face this and it's reality out there," said Jonathan. "A lot of times we just say, 'Well we're not going to say anything because where will my complaint go?'"

Kijiji pulled the ad after a complaint. And there has been a torrent of feedback denouncing the ad.

"If you look at the post and look at the social media, the comments ongoing, people are saying, our society is saying, 'This is not OK.'"

Jonathan said the reaction has been "heartwarming."

"There may be a turning point in Saskatchewan where racism is not acceptable."

'Blatant discrimination'

David Arnot, the chief commissioner with Saskatchewan's Human Rights Commission, said this ad is definitely against the province's human rights code.

"Without any question, it's obvious, blatant discrimination," he said.

Fundamentally when a landlord offers a property for rent in Saskatchewan, he offers it to all members of the public, and no one can be discriminated against on any one of 15 prohibited grounds in our code.- David Arnot, Chief Commissioner, Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

"Fundamentally when a landlord offers a property for rent in Saskatchewan, he offers it to all members of the public, and no one can be discriminated against on any one of 15 prohibited grounds in our code."

Those grounds include race, age and receipt of public assistance.

The rules are not the same for a roommate situation. Arnot noted that there can be some exceptions if the family lives in the same home.

Arnot said this specific situation has broader implications.  

"It does relate and link directly to the Truth and Reconociliation report earlier this year," he said.

"That report is calling on dealing with prejudices and racial discrimination against aboriginal people. And this ad or this kijiji posting corroborates the need for a positive response."

But he too sees something positive in the way people have responded to the story.

"I'm heartened I guess, because I think the vast majority of people in Saskatchewan realize this type of racial discrimination is patently offensive. "

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.