Windsor

UWSA post calling Canada Day an opportunity to reflect on 'terror and colonialism' sparks debate

A social media post from the University of Windsor Student Alliance calling for people to spend Canada Day reflecting on "150 years of hostility, cruelty and empty promises towards Indigenous peoples," has sparked a heated debate online.

Union director of communications apologized in later post

A Facebook post from the University of Windsor Student Alliance, which went up mid-morning Saturday, references years of "terror and colonialism" and states "there is no celebration in occupation." (UWSA/Facebook)

A social media post from the University of Windsor Student Alliance calling for people to spend Canada Day reflecting on "150 years of hostility, cruelty and empty promises towards Indigenous peoples," has sparked a heated debate online.

The Facebook post, which went up mid-morning Saturday, references years of "terror and colonialism" and states "there is no celebration in occupation."

It has been shared 127 times, garnered dozens of comments and prompted emotional sparring in the comment section where proponents of national pride took on those who argued the message was sharing a dark, but undeniable part of Canada's history.

An edit note was later added at the bottom of the post stating, "we are simply asking that you reflect and acknowledge the land you are on and the conditions indigenous people live under."

A separate discussion over whether a student union should publicly express views that may not be shared by all of the students it represents also continued Sunday.

In a statement to CBC, university spokesperson John Coleman wrote that the UWSA is a "separate entity" from the school and that the administration had no plans to get involved.

Repeated requests for comment from the union went unanswered Monday, but a second Facebook post published Saturday afternoon and signed by UWSA director of communications Rick Santarossa, apologized to those who may have been offended by the post.

Santarossa explained he did not write the original post and it went up without approval. He added he would be "coaching" some of his UWSA colleagues with access to the union's social media pages about "boundaries of personal opinions vs. those of the organization."

He ended the apology by wishing everyone an enjoyable long weekend and promised to personally respond to comments and questions about the post.

"Progressive organizations and teams put forth an effort not to run from their past, but to acknowledge their oversights and work collectively in order to ensure similar controversies do not to repeat themselves," Santarossa wrote. "Therefore the post ... will not be deleted."

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