About two dozen people rallied outside the Chronicle-Journal newspaper offices in Thunder Bay on Thursday to protest the paper's decision to publish a controversial election ad earlier this month.

The full page ad made references that many feel were directed toward aboriginal people.

Stan Beardy

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy says it's important to deal with concerns about racism before "it escalates." (Josh Lynne/CBC)

"Thunder Bay as a whole is a good city, it's a good place, people are nice. When I saw that ad I was puzzled," said Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy, who spoke at the rally.

"I think it's very important we come out, deal with it [race-relations] before it gets out of hand," Beardy said. "I'm very concerned that, at the grass roots if people don't do anything about it, it will continue to escalate."

protest sign

One of the signs held up at the anti-racism rally Thursday in Thunder Bay. (Josh Lynne/CBC)

Chronicle-Journal publisher Clint Harris greeted the protesters.

He said the paper wants to work with Aboriginal people and tell their stories.

"We at the paper want to work with the Aboriginal communities, celebrate their success," he said. "There's nothing we can't do together, and that's our plan to work together to do what we can and help in every way we can."