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Iqaluit city councillor to resign after controversial social media posts

Coun. Malaiya Lucassie says she will step down after councillors unanimously passed a motion on Tuesday calling for her resignation.

Coun. Malaiya Lucassie told CBC News she was stepping down after council passes motion calling for resignation

At a meeting Tueday night, Iqaluit city council unanimously passed a motion for Coun. Malaiya Lucassie to step down immediately. Lucassie says she apologizes to the Black community for her comments on social media last week. (Travis Burke/CBC)

Iqaluit city councillor Malaiya Lucassie says she will step down immediately from council after a unanimous vote Tuesday night calling for her resignation. 

At the council meeting, Coun. Romeyn Stevenson said council "officially reprimands" Lucassie.

"This council demands Councillor Lucassie's resignation effective immediately," Stevenson said.

The decision comes after Lucassie made comments on a Facebook post by her father, MLA Patterk Netser, which criticized Black women for having abortions.

The post also says "All Lives Matter," a statement largely seen as a criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement because it discounts the disproportionate racism that Black people face.

Netser was stripped of his ministerial portfolios for the comments. He told CBC News in an interview he doesn't regret making the post but apologized for offending anyone.

Lucassie's comment on the post was in agreement with Netser's statements. She also added that nothing is done to recognize Indigenous deaths.

"All lives matter. Why don't we do something for everyone and not just BLM," Lucassie said in her comment on the post.

She later posted an apology saying what she was trying to make change for Inuit.

"My intentions to call for change for Inuit was presented poorly, and I in no way meant to take away from the BLM movement or from any other group fighting against the systemic racism we face," she said.

"I was wrong to reference the Iqaluit BLM protest in my desire to see similar action on behalf of Inuit and Indigenous Canadians."

Lucassie apologizes

Lucassie told CBC News in an emailed statement on Wednesday morning that she will be resigning.

In the statement, Lucassie says she apologizes to the Black community for her comments.

"The city has portrayed me as an Inuk with a racist attitude," said Lucassie in the statement.

"Please note that I am not against anyone or the BLM movement. I support and understand the movement as a member of a minority."

Lucassie added she is sorry if her comments were misinterpreted.

Last Thursday, MLA Patterk Netser was stripped of his ministerial portfolios for comments he made on social media. Netser oversaw the Arctic College, and the Nunavut Housing Corporation. (Travis Burke/CBC)

"All I tried to say, and sorry if it was misinterpreted, is why did we not have anything done for the lives of Inuit that have been murdered, raped, and abused? Why was there no such movement?"

She says minorities are often "bullied to keep our mouths shut" and calls for minorities to work together "rather than going against each other."

Vote reflects 'severity' of situation

At Tuesday night's meeting, Stevenson said Lucassie's comments on social media last week breached the city's code of conduct.

"The council does not condone racism or gender violence," said Stevenson. "And does not accept a world where comments such as those made over the weekend are let go without censure."

Mayor Kenny Bell says he supports council's decision to ask Lucassie to resign and that her comments were "extremely damaging and should never have been made."

Bell says Lucassie was expected to attend the Tuesday meeting but didn't show. 

He added that the vote "reflects the severity of the situation."

"Council has been working hard … to be as inclusive as possible," Bell said.

"This issue just throws a wrench into all the good work we have been doing."

Bell says what happens to Lucassie's seat will be up to the council to decide. It could sit empty, or council could appoint the person who received the next highest number of votes from last year's election to fill it. Councillors may also pick a person of their choice to fill the seat.

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