Melfort journalist's column criticized for 'ignorant' views on Indigenous people
Editorial columnist has deleted the column and posted a clarification
An editorial opinion column titled "When Will It End?" published in a Saskatchewan newspaper on Tuesday is being called "ignorant," "shocking" and "casual racism."
The column was written by the regional managing editor of the Melfort Journal, Greg Wiseman.
In the column, he responds to a statement from Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron that racism is something Indigenous people deal with on a daily basis.
Wiseman writes that everyone deals with racism, "Yet only one group seems to always be the ones claiming racism."
The column asks why children are being taught more about Indigenous history in schools: "Should there be more Scandinavian history taught since the Vikings came to and impacted the history of Canada. French history or British?"
While the author acknowledges the atrocities of the residential school system, he asks: "When is it enough compensation? How long must governments and residents of this country keep paying for mistakes of the past?"
He adds, "Whatever it takes to satisfy First Nations that reconciliation has been completed, just do it."
Author deletes column and posts apology
Wiseman declined to answer questions on Wednesday but deleted the column on Wednesday afternoon and posted a new article titled "Clarifying my opinion."
He said the column "clearly wasn't interpreted as I had hoped, and my intention is never to offend people."
Wiseman said his intention was to convey that everyone is equal.
"There are many people offended by my recent words and for that I apologize."
'Shallow and ignorant'
Saskatoon-based journalist and Indigenous awareness trainer John Lagimodiere says the column is "shallow and ignorant."
"It's a really simplistic, defensive view on the whole issue. It doesn't talk about why these issues are there. He just shows a frustration with having to deal with the issues now," said Lagimodiere, who is the publisher and editor of Eagle Feather News.
He said the column "sets back the whole cause of trying to understand each other and these issues that we all face together."
Lagimodiere suggests the author reach out to community leaders in the First Nations around Melfort for a better education on the issues facing them.
"I think as journalists we have a responsibility to be fair and pragmatic, and I don't think that happened with this column."
Social media pushback
On Facebook, the column generated a backlash from commenters. They called it "repulsive" and "casual racism," and said they were "shocked this article was published."
"Judging by the reaction on Facebook and the outrage and the amount of people pushing back on it. I think that's a really good thing," said Lagimodiere.
The column ends with: "It is only through experience and understanding that we can become accepting of everyone."