Letter titled "Educate First Nations to be modern citizens" sparks debate on racism
A public backlash is growing against a letter published by the Nanaimo Daily News.
The letter, written by Don Olsen, a Nanaimo resident who's had other opinions published by community newspapers in the past, ran with the headline, "Educate First Nations to be modern citizens."
It was published at the Nanaimo Daily News' website on Wednesday (March 27) but has since been removed (the original full text appears below).
A Facebook group created in response to the letter describes it as "racist" and has called for the newspaper to print a retraction and for staff to make a public apology.
Update: Today (March 28) the Nanaimo Daily News published an "editorial clarification." "While we would defend Mr. Olsen's right to hold and express his opinion, the sentiments expressed were entirely his own and in no way reflect the views of the newspaper," writes Hugh Nicholson, division manager for Vancouver Island News Group. "The letter should not have run. We apologize for any distress this may have caused our readers."
Another letter written by Olsen and published by the Nanaimo Daily News on January 17, 2013, argues that "the public needs to know more about the real facts of conditions that exist among certain bands of the First Nations People." It goes on to list the alleged salaries of several Canadian aboriginal leaders, and concludes, "It is my belief that if the tax paying public were to know the truth, they would certainly be less sympathetic to the Idle No More cause." The full text of that letter can be viewed here.
What do you think about the Nanaimo Daily Times publishing such controversial views? Was deleting the March 27 letter from its website the appropriate response to the public's reaction? Readers are encouraged to share their opinions in the comments section at the bottom of the page, and asked that discourse be kept civil.
The text of the March 27 letter appears unedited below.
It was only 12,000 years ago, or less and this should be considered; in all those years the so called First Nations:
. Never "discovered" the wheel
. Never had a written language
. Never discovered astronomy
. Had no science or scientific discoveries
. Had no mathematics
. Made no medical discoveries
. Never had written music
. Only "figured out" a drum and a rattle for musical instruments
. Had no metallurgy
. Had no sails for boats (only had canoes)
. Created virtually no mechanical devices
. Possessed almost nothing that required hard manual labour over a period of time, i.e.: building with or carving out of stone
. Made almost no inventions
. Are just in the last 200 years getting caught-up to most of the rest of the world
. Have a history that is notable only for underachievement Are these people in trouble? Yes.
Do they need help? Yes.
Are they responsible enough to look after themselves and efficiently spend the billions the tax payers give them? Certainly not.
The only way to fix this situation is to bring them into society as equals. They should be getting jobs and paying taxes like the rest of us because in reality, they are no more special than any of the other hundred or more cultures that call Canada home.
Turn off the taps. Do away with this "traditional use" and "cultural" nonsense. Educate their children to become modern citizens.
Instead of finding their identity and source of pride in some folks who occupied the land 15,000 years ago. Let them stand or fall on their own account.
Just like the rest of us have to do.
Don Olsen Nanaimo