Kingsclear First Nation — Angela Bear Nicholas, former chair of the Native Studies department at St. Thomas University, says that Conversative MP John Williamson owes the First Nations people of New Brunswick an apology. Williamson is the member of parliament for New Brunswick Southeast, which includes the Maliseet First Nation of Kingsclear. Over the weekend, Williamson made the now infamous remarks that “brown people” (the Conservative’s apparent term for temporary foreign workers) were taking all the jobs from “whities” (i.e. ordinary citizens of New Brunswick). Bear Nicholas is alleging that it was discriminatory for Williamson to exclude First Nations people from his comments.
“I wasn’t surprised,” said Bear Nicholas. “Canada has a culture of exclusion when it comes to First Nations, but that doesn’t mean that it hurts less. Williamson’s racism covered everyone in the province: anglophones, francophones, temporary foreign workers, new immigrants and permanent residents. He literally insulted everyone but First Nations. After all we’ve been through it’s like, all of a sudden we’re not good enough for you to be racist toward? So you’re just going to ignore us and pretend we don’t exist? It’s 2015 and I hoped we were beyond this.”
There are more than 1.2 million First Nation people in Canada, representing 3.8 percent of the population. Of the 308 seats that make up the Canadian parliament, only 7 seats (2.3 percent) are occupied by people who identify as First Nation — the highest number in history. In Canada, First Nations are underrepresented in virtually every area of life: government, sports and entertainment, business, postsecondary education, bake sales, etc.
“First Nations?” said a confused Williamson trying to pass through a gauntlet of reporters on his way into the Fredericton airport. “You mean those little people who make toys in Santa’s workshop? Why the heck were they offended?”
A staffer then whispered in Williamson’s ear and the MP refused to comment further. He caught a flight back to Ottawa, but The Manatee did receive the following email on his behalf:
“MP Williamson was thinking of the elves of the North Pole who live and work in Santa Claus’s village. We have done research and discovered that the elves are actually Indians, from the country of India. Santa imported them as temporary foreign workers and later secured citizenship for them. MP Williamson did not realize that some of those elves had immigrated to New Brunswick. Therefore, the First Nations people of New Brunswick are descended from temporary foreign workers, so technically, they were included in Williamson’s comments and should feel as offended as every other New Brunswicker. It is the official policy of the Conservative Party of Canada to be equally racist to all people in Canada, despite their skin colour or their citizenship status. John Williamson wishes to apologize to the Temporary-Foreign-Worker-Elf-Indian-First Nations of New Brunswick. It was not his intention to exclude you.”
While Bear Nicholas claims that Williamson has got “some of his facts wrong” about First Nations, she is glad that he took the time to issue the apology.
“That’s all we wanted,” she said. “That’s all we can hope for. Liberal, Conservative, New-New Democrat, that one Green guy in Fredericton — at the end of the day all politicians seem to be cut from the same ignorant cloth. They’re all ‘blue people’ because all they do is lie until they’re blue in the face.”
Angela Bear Nicholas has since been asked to apologize to the People’s Alliance Party of New Brunswick for excluding them from her generalization about politicians.