NAN concerned over growing prevalence of racism in Thunder Bay

    THUNDER BAY, ON, May 13 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand
Chief Terry Waboose is concerned over the growing prevalence of racism in
Thunder Bay following a police investigation into a racially motivated
conflict involving local schools.
    "There is a disturbing trend of racism becoming more prevalent in
educational institutions, local businesses and on the streets of this
community," said Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose.
"We hope to help diffuse this systemic racism by engaging with the Thunder Bay
community in a positive, proactive manner that is both appropriate and
culturally sensitive."
    The Thunder Bay Police Service is conducting an investigation into what
it has called a "racially motivated conflict" involving Aboriginal and
non-Aboriginal youth who have allegedly made threatening remarks on social
networking sites. The investigation comes after several reports of racial
discrimination involving schools, businesses and incidents on city streets.
    Lakehead Public Schools distributed a letter Tuesday advising parents and
guardians of the police investigation. The letter urges parents and guardians
to speak to children about the seriousness of violent acts and racially
motivated remarks on the Internet and in the community.
    "The Thunder Bay community has a growing First Nations population and it
is time that we come together to address issues of racism, but we can't do
that if people insist on labelling people as 'Aboriginal' or 'non-Aboriginal'.
This creates an us-versus-them mentality that can only exacerbate these
problems," said Waboose. "We are encouraged that Lakehead Public Schools and
the Thunder Bay Police Service are taking this issue seriously. But rather
than treat this situation as an isolated incident, we need to use this issue
as a springboard from which to launch a collaborative approach between NAN,
the City of Thunder Bay, local schools and police services to keep Thunder Bay
a culturally diverse community that respects the rights of all citizens."

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization
representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty 9 and Ontario
portions of Treaty 5 - an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario.

For further information:

For further information: Michael Heintzman, Media Relations Officer -
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4906 or (807) 621-2790 mobile

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