As everyone celebrated Canada Day festivities around Kamloops, a racist message on a Secwepemc sign was discovered in Lac Du Boise Grasslands Park just a few kilometres north of the city.
Jeffrey McNeil, a sessional lecturer at Thompson Rivers University and member of Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc, shared a photo of the vandalism on Sunday. The picture, taken by somebody else, shows the words “F*** Indians, white power, white is right, Indians have had enough,” spray-painted over a sign instructing mushroom pickers and buyers that they were in the unceded territory of the Secwepemc people.
The photo and McNeil’s caption got a huge response — almost 2,000 shares and over 100 comments as of the time of publishing.
One person said: "That's not the part of Canada I love...and I LOVE Canada. Thankfully the majority of us are not haters and we want to make things whole with our First Nations people. Thanks for sharing. We need to shine a light on this behaviour and let people know it's not OK."
While many comments were supportive of First Nations and disturbed by the racist message, others were less so.
One comment reads: “People are sick of natives asking for handouts every other day. Not being productive citizens on average accepting welfare not working.”
Another person asks: “Do you think the anger displayed is because they have to purchase a permit to pick mushrooms on “Crown land?”
Earlier this year, a group of Secwepemc bands launched a land-management program requiring mushroom pickers to obtain permits from them.
Chief Ryan Day of the Bonaparte Indian Band says the program has been well received by pickers, buyers, locals and resort owners. He says he doesn’t believe the vandalism is in response to it.
“(It’s) just an opportunity for an ignorant person to get a rise out of people,” he tells KamloopsMatters.
Day adds it’s important for people to support the efforts of reconciliation and to implement the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“Education and personal connection is the only answer to ignorance.”
– Sherisse Mousseau is a freelance writer for KamloopsMatters