In a strongly worded statement, the Nawah Unceded First Nation (located on the shores of Georgian Bay in Ontario) has called for the immediate resignation of South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Garry Michi, citing offensive remarks that have caused widespread dismay and outrage among Indigenous communities.
The call for the Mayor to step down, stems from an audio clip that was released last week. In the audio clip, Michi states "What I am saying is where is this all going to end? Twenty-five years ago they put a water treatment plant up at Cape Croker. It got ruined because they didn’t maintain it. Now we’ve spent $65 million up there to put hydrants and a new water treatment plant and 75 percent of those houses, I mean they should be torn down. It’s like, why are we spending $65 million on a water treatment plant up there that’s going to last 20 years because they’re not going to look after it? Right? Just look at their home. I can understand to be poor, but you can be poor and clean,” the recording says before it’s cut off."
The clip was posted to the audio-sharing platform SoundCloud. You can listen to the clip here.
The Nawah Unceded First Nation Council expressed deep disappointment and offence at the mayor's remarks, deeming them as a stark display of disregard and disrespect for not only their people but also for all Indigenous communities that have endured historical injustices and the denial of fundamental human rights.
"Mayor Michi's comments, which place blame for the lack of essential services on Neyaashiinigmiing, reveal a colonial and racist perspective that has long oppressed Indigenous peoples, particularly the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation," the Council's statement read.
The sentiments expressed by Mayor Michi directly contradict the principles of reconciliation and the rights of Indigenous nations to self-determination, as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This contradiction has only deepened the growing demand for his resignation.
Furthermore, the Council highlighted the fact that First Nations have consistently been deprived of adequate funding and essential services, a reality recognized by various courts and governments over the years. The comments made by Mayor Michi disregard this systemic issue, dismissing the pressing need for proper resources and assistance that Indigenous communities have been rightfully advocating for.
"It is imperative that a leader possesses an understanding of the historical oppression faced by Indigenous communities and the significance of upholding their rights," stated the Nawah Unceded First Nation Council. They firmly believe that someone who lacks this crucial knowledge and perspective should not hold any leadership position, let alone within the Saugeen Ojibway Nation's territory, known as Saukiing Anishnaabekiing.
Town Distances Itself From Mayors Comments
In a post on the South Bruce Peninsula Town Website Friday Afternoon, Deputy Mayor Jay Kirkland distances the town from the Mayors comments.
"Mayor Michi’s comments do not reflect the Town’s position on the matter," Kirkland stated in the news release. Adding, "We know and sympathize that First Nations communities across Canada struggle with access to clean drinking water which is a basic human necessity. The Town supports federal efforts to fund capital projects that ensure all First Nations People across Canada have access to safe drinking water."