Dozens gather to support First Nations after 'damaging' ad

More than 60 people filled the lobby in Thunder Bay City Hall on Friday afternoon to condemn a newspaper campaign ad that took aim at First Nations rights earlier in the week.
Alvin and Tesa Fiddler brought their daughters and niece to the event at City Hall to show them that people will not tolerate offensive messages against First Nations. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

The provincial election may be over, but many in Thunder Bay are still fighting back against a campaign ad placed by Thunder Bay-Superior North Libertarian candidate Tamara Johnson.

The full page ad, which appeared on the back page of Tuesday's Chronicle-Journal, took aim at First Nations, including disparaging statements about treaty rights.  

More than 60 people filled the lobby inside Thunder Bay city hall on Friday afternoon to condemn the statements and show their support for First Nations. 
Seven-year-old Aidan Dick handed out "Respect" buttons to everyone at the event denouncing a recent campaign ad that took aim at First Nations rights. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

"The city of Thunder Bay categorically, unequivocally rejects her damaging statements," said Mayor Keith Hobbs.

Other speakers at the event included AminaAbu-Bakare of the city's Anti-Racism Advisory Committee; GeorjannMorriseau, Chief of Fort William First Nation; Robinson-Superior Grand Chief Peter Collins; and Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Harvey Yesno.  

Yesno highlighted the fact that First Nations make a significant economic contribution to the city, in contradiction to the ad's statements about Aboriginal people receiving "handouts."

'People being horrible to them'

He also criticized the Chronicle-Journal for publishing the ad and said Nishnawbe Aski Nation would be reconsidering its advertising relationship with the newspaper. 

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and his wife, Tesa Fiddler, brought their children to the event to show them people were fighting back against the offensive comments. 

Tesa Fiddler said they talked to their daughter, Allison, about the ad, after she overheard them discussing it. 

"We wanted to explain that there are people out there with horrible perceptions... and that it's really important for us to not tolerate that."

Nine-year-old Allison Fiddler said she was "kind of upset and mad" about the ad, but she was glad that people came together for the event. 

"I think that they're trying to encourage the native people to stand up and fight for their own culture," she said. 

"White people and native people and everyone should understand what's going on ... [with] this person who wants to run ... in a party to be like the government or something," the 9-year-old added. "People should understand what the native people are going through with people being horrible to them."