Joyce Murray, First Nation newspaper apologize for sobriety grad ad

Liberal MP Joyce Murray and the First Nations Drum newspaper are both apologizing after publishing an ad featuring Murray congratulating aboriginal high school graduates that referred to sobriety as a key to success.

Ad congratulating aboriginal high school grads referred to sobriety as key to success

Liberal MP Joyce Murray is apologizing after an ad published in her name congratulating aboriginal students on their graduation included the line: "Sobriety, education and hard work lead to success." The newspaper has also apologized. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Liberal MP Joyce Murray and the First Nations Drum newspaper are both apologizing after publishing an ad in which Murray congratulated aboriginal high school graduates and seemingly referred to sobriety as a key to success.

Both the newspaper, Canada's largest First Nations paper, and the Liberal Party say the ad copy was written by a salesperson at the newspaper and approved by one of Murray's staffers. They both say Murray never saw the copy.

The ad features a large photo of a smiling Murray, next to copy congratulating "all 2015 aboriginal high school graduates."

"Sobriety, education and hard work lead to success," the next line says.

Jacqui Gingras, a federal NDP candidate in British Columbia, seems to be the first person to have pointed out the ad on Twitter, posting it with the hashtag "racistmuch."

Murray was quick to respond on Twitter, apologizing for the "completely inappropriate" ad published under her name.

Murray later tweeted a link to a post on her Facebook page, in which she apologized "unreservedly," but said she had not been aware of the ad and did not approve its content.

Len O'Connor, one of the managing editors of First Nations Drum, said the paper is taking responsibility for the ad.

"She's very supportive of First Nation publications, First Nation issues," he said.

O'Connor said Murray would be the last person to make a racist statement like the one in the ad. 

It was an oversight by one of the salespeople, he said.

"[Murray] is not at all responsible."

Murray declined an interview request. Gingras didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a longer post on Facebook, Murray called the language "deeply offensive."

"I was not aware of this advertisement and did not approve of its content. However, I assume full responsibility for what has happened and I offer my most sincere apologies to all those who were offended by this comment," she wrote.

A spokeswoman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt wrote in an email to CBC News that the ad was "unacceptable and offensive."

"We hope that Justin Trudeau's candidate Jody Wilson-Raybould will condemn this offensive Liberal ad," wrote Andrea Richer, Valcourt's director of communications, in reference to an Assembly of First Nations regional chief who is also running for the Liberals in B.C.

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