The Penticton Indian Band and City of Penticton issued a joint condemnation of racism in the community following abuse hurled at youth working at Coyote Cruises.
The young student employees at the popular tourist and local recreation were subjected to racist slurs and a physical altercation by intoxicated and belligerent individuals floating down the river channel.
The slurs and abuse included disrespectful mention of the 215 graves of children recently discovered at the former Kamloops Residential School.
Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel said these actions are “not acceptable and cannot be tolerated.”
“We already have much anger in all First Nations communities as a result of the initial 215 graves being discovered,” he said.
”This type of irresponsible behaviour will only generate more anger and division between communities. Our children and youth who work in these summer positions work diligently in performing their roles to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment and should never be subjected to any racism or belligerent behaviour.”
Mayor John Vassilaki said there is no place for racism in Penticton, especially towards youth.
“Each of us must stand up and call out racism of any sort anytime we witness it,” said the mayor. “To community members and neighbours who are hurting right now, on behalf of the city and council, I want you to know that we stand with you, and we are here for you.”
In addition to the joint condemnation from the City and Penticton Indian Band, the Penticton RCMP is investigating the incident.
“These insensitive actions, especially towards our youth, will not be tolerated and have been reported to the Penticton RCMP,” said RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter. “We all recognize that there continues to be much grief and anger in our First Nations communities as more graves are being discovered, but it is important that we all lead with compassion and understanding during these difficult times.”
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