Don Cherry lights up Twitter with xenophobic rant about immigrants and Remembrance Day poppies

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      A segment on Hockey Night in Canada this weekend has given new life to the hashtag #FireDonCherry.

      Don Cherry claimed in the "Coach's Corner" segment that people wear poppies in small cities but nobody wears them in Toronto, which happens to have a large immigrant population.

      "You people love—you that come here, whatever it is—you love our way of life. You love our milk and honey," Cherry said. "At least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys pay for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price."

      Then he referred to the "good Canadians" who still buy a poppy as cohost Ron MacLean sat quietly beside him.

      After Cherry's rant, the Canadian Armed Forces tweeted a reminder about the contributions of soldiers of colour to the country's war efforts.

      Canada's poppy-wearing and highly decorated defence minister, Harjit Sajjan, is an immigrant himself, moving to Canada at the age of five from Punjab. He was commander of the B.C. Regiment and served overseas four times.

      The day before Cherry's diatribe, Sajjan was recognizing Indigenous women and men who've served and sacrificed to protect freedoms in Canada.

      More than a million Indian troops served overseas in the First World War.

      And Vancouver writer Sandy Garossino has pointed out over Twitter that more Indians than Canadians died in that conflict.

      Last year, the Observer reported that more Indians fought in the First World War than all the troops who came from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Newfoundland (which was not part of Canada at the time), and South Africa.

      The Observer also noted that at least 180,000 Africans joined the war effort, serving in the Carrier Corps. 

      Back in 2013, Vancouver journalist Ng Weng Hoong wrote a long feature in the Georgia Straight highlighting the role of Chinese labourers on behalf of the Allied forces in the First World War.

      Here, Chinese Labour Corps members are unloading sacks at the French port of Boulogne in the First World War.

      "In a hugely successful mission in 1917 that is just coming into public awareness, more than 84,000 members of the Chinese Labour Corps (CLC) were transported 20,000 kilometres from Shandong province to Canada’s Vancouver Island and then to Halifax to eventually play key support roles in the killing fields of France and Belgium," Ng wrote.

      "At least another 54,000 were shipped through a more dangerous route: via the Suez Canal and across the Mediterranean Sea to the French port Marseilles, near where German vessels and submarines were known to patrol," he added.

      These Chinese labourers were paid one British pound, according to research conducted by retired teacher Peter Johnson, author of Quarantined: Life and Death at William Head Station 1872-1959.

      Below, you can read are some of the comments on Twitter in response to Cherry's comments.

      In 2013, Rogers reached a 12-year deal with the National Hockey League to secure the broadcast rights to Hockey Night in Canada.

      The Toronto-based communications company controls the production, and the games are also broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation network.

      CBC does not generate any revenue by doing this.

      The Rogers board of directors has not taken any steps to remove Don Cherry from Hockey Night in Canada.

      The City of Vancouver's general manager of arts, culture, and community services, Sandra Singh, is the only B.C. director on the board of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

      Prior to becoming a senior bureaucrat at Vancouver City Hall, she was the chief librarian at the Vancouver Public Library for many years. In that role, she distinguished herself for her efforts to make the library system more responsive to the needs of immigrants, gender-variant people, the Indigenous community, and people of colour.

      Singh doesn't have a personal Twitter account, so it's not possible to tag her on this social-media platform regarding Cherry's latest remark in a growing list of controversies.

      In February 2018, Cherry referred to people with concerns about climate change as "cuckaloos".

      In the past, he's slammed French-speaking players and Europeans for wearing visors attached to their helmets.

      On another occasion, he criticized former hockey enforcers for speaking out against fighting in the game, saying they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

      Update #1

      Three hours after this article was posted, Rogers Sportsnet issued the following apology for Cherry's remarks.

      Update #2

      On November 11, Sportsnet announced that Cherry would no longer appear on Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts.

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