Saskatchewan

FSIN wants comedy duo banished from Country Thunder, festival organizers respond

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is asking Country Thunder organizers to ban Williams and Ree after the comedy duo made a joke about Indigenous people supposedly not being able to pay their rent on time.

Performance by Williams and Ree at Country Thunder causing controversy

Williams and Ree, a comedy duo criticized last year for jokes about Indigenous people during a Humboldt Broncos benefit concert (pictured), are again under fire after a performance at Country Thunder in Craven, Sask. (CBC)

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is asking Country Thunder organizers to ban Williams and Ree after the comedy duo made a joke about Indigenous people supposedly not being able to pay their rent on time.

In a news release, FSIN said the comment was racist and that, "racism is learned behaviour and these disrespectful comedians contribute to that negative attitude." FSIN said the duo is "an embarrassment to Country Thunder" 

Terry Ree, one half of the duo, is Indigenous. The American pair has been part of the Country Thunder events for more than 20 years.

Country Thunder reviewing concerns

Country Thunder Music Festivals responded to the concerns with an emailed statement Wednesday.

It says the organization is reviewing the complaint.

"As an organization, we strive to always be improving our festival experience, including onstage content, and we take these concerns seriously," the statement said.

Kim Blevins, general manager for Country Thunder Music Festivals, said in the statement, "This type of concern is not anything we take lightly."

The statement says racism of any kind is not tolerated "withing the Country Thunder Music Festivals family."

Ree is of Sioux descent and considers Saskatchewan his second home, according to the statement.

"That said, Country Thunder Music Festivals understands changing times and equally changing climates of political correctness not only in Saskatchewan, but in all Country Thunder host markets."

The statement said these concerns can be used as opportunity to expand relationships with all parties involved.

Other troubles with Williams and Ree

This isn't the first time Willams and Ree have found themselves at the centre of controversy. FSIN criticized them for similar punch lines last year after a Humboldt Broncos benefit concert that was also organized by Country Thunder.

At that time the duo responded to the complaint by apologizing on Facebook to anyone who was offended by their routine. They said they failed to consider the emotional nature of the event, a tribute to remember the 16 people who died in the April 6, 2018 bus crash.

Shortly after that event the pair cancelled a show at Casino Regina in May 2018.

Bruce Williams and Terry Ree declined to comment on FSIN's criticism Tuesday.

Organizers of Country Thunder had not responded to a request for comment as of Tuesday morning.