Local leaders denounce racism in Sault Ste. Marie
Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge blockade. Feb. 25/20 (Jairus Patterson/CTV Northern Ontario)
SAULT STE. MARIE -- The city of Sault Ste. Marie, local First Nations, and the friendship centre are denouncing racism, discrimination and intolerance towards Indigenous people.
Leaders met on Saturday, Feb. 29, in response to hateful comments surrounding ongoing Wet'suwet'en protests in Northern BC and across the country.
"I met them at the fire and I listened, I listened to their thoughts and their perspectives," said Christian Provenzano, Sault Ste. Marie Mayor.
Provenzano says he grew concerned when a local online media outlet shut down its comments section, due to racist comments surrounding the International Bridge protest.
"That was obviously disconcerting, that they feel like they need to close them down," he said. "Negative comments are common, but there's a difference between negativity and racism."
The Indian Friendship Centre says they're saddened with the way some in the city have reacted.
"We live in such a beautiful community here and to have that kind of lateral violence perpetuate throughout the community, it's really negative energy," said Cathy Syrette, Executive Director.
Syrette says she's encouraged by some of the work the city has done to build relations, but believes the community must take the next step.
"Reach out to your neighbours, build those bridges, build those friendships," she said. "It all starts with trust, that's how we move forward."
The city is working with First Nations to develop new initiatives, as well as improving current ones, according to Mayor Provenzano.
While the International Bridge protest has ended, several continue across the country.