A comment on Facebook from last Thursday led to an internal investigation from the County. Beaver Lake Cree Nation responds looking for ways to move forward.
Lac La Biche County announced that their investigation over insensitive Facebook comments has led to a County member being fired.
Lac La Biche mayor, Omer Moghrabi, says because the employee was reprimanded means that the County’s HR department was doing their job.
“We do have a code of conduct, we have a social media policy, and HR followed through with it,” said Moghrabi.
“People are looking for equality, and they are looking for all human beings to be treated equally. It’s unfortunate that this had to happen, but we had to do what is right for the well being of all members of the community.”
The County’s social media policy states: “Lac La Biche County is committed to providing a respectful, relevant and family-friendly environment on its social media sites, and as such, reserves the right to remove material deemed inappropriate.”
The racist comments began in a Lac La Biche Neighbourhood Watch Facebook group and were directed towards an Indigenous man.
Indigenous communities around the Lakeland have responded to the racism in Lac La Biche, and some have some possible solutions.
Beaver Lake Cree Nation released a statement on August 18 addressing the comments.
Crystal Lameman, Government Relations Advisor and Treaty Coordinator for Beaver Lake Cree Nation, wrote the statement to not only let Council and RCMP know that hate won’t be tolerated, but also to talk about ways in which everyone can work together to minimize racism in the community.
“Strategically we wanted to not just provide a statement that would call out the very racist, hateful, and violent comments, we also wanted to provide a statement that gave solutions and a way forward,” said Lameman.
“The statement was a way for us to respond in a manner that gave steps forward for everybody: Indigenous, Non-Indigenous, Indigenous Leaders, Non-Indigenous Leaders, businesses, organizations, agencies, and that’s why we responded the way we did.”
Lameman believes everyone needs to be proactive in facing racism head-on because it’s not going away and people’s lives could be at risk.
“There are disproportionate numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, men, and boys and in the LGBTQ community. These numbers are a reality that impacts so many families,” said Lameman.
“It’s with hope that the Beaver Lake Cree Nation can and will strive to rebuild trigger reconciliation practices with the people that occupy their lands, and I think that can only be done with government agencies, the RCMP, County of Lac La Biche as a whole, and that’s inclusive of organizations, and businesses, and members of the community.”
One of the suggestions Lameman gives to combat racism is to create a task force that would directly focus on instances like this.
“The Nation seeks ways to better respond to hate crimes and speech and creative ways to address the roots of intolerance and discrimination through education and other means.”
At the end of the month, a group of local Indigenous leaders will be coming together to discuss the next course of action and then present that to Lac La Biche Council members and RCMP.
Lameman said racism is a systemic issue, one that needs to be addressed from all sides.
“One thing that’s important to note is that this matter isn’t going away, this is not the first time these types of comments have been made,” said Crystal.
“We have to do something to change the deep entrenchment of racism in that community. Situations like these are indicative of the historical and current treatment of Indigenous peoples.”