Edmonton Sun | Sep. 06, 2001 | Orest Slepokura
Letters to Editor

Racism knows no bounds

TO ASSEMBLY of First Nations grand Chief Matthew Coon Come: Between 1975 and 1980, I lived and worked as a young white man in Fort George on James Bay - your neck of the woods. A common complaint of racism I heard was from a group of my Inuit friends, complaining bitterly of the racism of your Cree brethren. However, the most visible and unabashed expression of racism came from Cree high school students directed toward their French teacher, a friend and colleague. They even kicked in his classroom door one morning. Reason: They vicariously blamed him for the big hydroelectric project being developed upriver. By my fifth year in Fort George, I managed to understand enough Cree to follow conversations. There were, I'm sorry to say, many occasions when a Cree referred to the "whamstahgosho" (white man) in his midst in plainly racist terms. The speaker assumed I was unable to understand his racial slurs. In fact, this happened so routinely that I eventually stopped taking it personally. Many of your Cree brethren were, I must say, remarkably at ease with their racism. I hope they have grown less comfortable with it in the 20 years that have since elapsed.

Orest Slepokura

Editorial comment: (Racism known no bounds. Even Chief Coon Come displays his own special brand for all the world to see.)