Manitoba newspaper sparks furor with racist editorial

The mayor of Morris, Man., is furious over what he calls racist comments about aboriginal people in a recent edition of the community newspaper.

Racist newspaper editorial sparks furor

CBC News: Winnipeg at 6:00

8 years ago
Some residents of Morris, Man., say they're outraged with what they call racist comments about aboriginal people in a recent edition of the community newspaper. 1:45

The mayor of the southern Manitoba town of Morris is furious over what he calls racist comments about aboriginal people in a recent edition of the community newspaper.

"I'm shocked and appalled that somebody can write something like that and think that it was right and acceptable to say it," said Mayor Gavin van der Linde.

"We can have our opinions about what people do and that's fine. But the tone and the words he chose to use were totally unacceptable."

The editorial in the Morris Mirror, written by editor-in-chief Reed Turcotte and published in the current edition, states that "in some cases, natives are acting like terrorists in their own country. Indians/Natives want it all but corruption and laziness prevent some of them from working for it."

On the same page is a cartoon depicting a traditional First Nation person holding a small campfire in his hand and sending out smoke signals.

The caption on the cartoon states: "Before they were partially wiped out by white men’s diseases, the Canadian Indian had a highly evolved society built around the world’s first cellphone."

Turcotte, who said he has received about 37 inquiries from media outlets across North America, has since issued an apology. He said a special edition of the paper will be published Friday.

But van der Linde calls the apology weak and meaningless.

"It was an attempt at an apology. He then went and tried to justify himself and so in my opinion, that's no apology at all," van der Linde said.

"If you apologize, just apologize, you don't have to go and re-justify your opinion."

Some businesses removing ads

Some business owners in Morris, a town of about 1,800, say they will remove their advertising from the Mirror if it does not publish a retraction and apology.

"If I leave my ad in there, it looks like I am in agreement with this article. And I'm not," said Helga Rose Hoeppner, who owns Rainbow Income Tax.

"I would have no problem pulling my ad if he does not apologize or put [in] some kind of a retraction."

The owner of Big Way Foods told CBC News he is removing his advertisement from the newspaper because of the editorial, which he said does not reflect the views of people in the community.

Mavis Taillieu, the Progressive Conservative MLA for the area, said while she believes the editorial's comments are racist, she believes it was an error in judgment on Turcotte's part.

Taillieu said she will not pull her advertising from the paper because she wants to continue supporting the local economy.

"There would be negative repercussions to the newspaper should people start pulling their ads," she said.

"Once you don't have a newspaper in a community, that certainly reflects on the community as well."

Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, a lecturer in native studies at the University of Manitoba, has invited Turcotte and other members of the Mirror to join him in a discussion of the editorial.

"Now, more than ever, our country needs people with differing opinions to talk," Sinclair wrote in a letter to the paper.

"As a member of the media, I have no doubt you are committed to publishing a range of ideas and opinions. I am only interested in a respectful, open dialogue and extend my time and space with you. I'll even bring coffee and food."