With the federal election looming, local Green Party candidates Stephanie Goertz and Kirsten Wright came under fire last week, after a Facebook invitation was sent out to attend workshops, including “Traditional First Nations Pouch Making with the Green Party.”
An apology was sent to followers of the post by Wright on behalf of the two candidates.
“Someone helping with Stephanie’s social media put up posts about events Christine was running that were horribly, inexcusably worded,” she said.
Many local community members responded quickly and negatively at the invitation to the series of workshops, which were originally promoted as a campaign fundraiser.
According to the original Facebook post, which was quickly taken down, donations of $150 to the campaign, to cover the cost of materials and the facilitator, were requested. A $400 donation would garner the donor with a tax receipt for $300.
Local First Nations artisan and respected knowledge carrier Christine Lefebvre was contracted to be the facilitator for the workshop series. None of the original posts included her name, her nation or her experience, which is Indigenous protocol when sharing teachings.
Not being a social media person, she did not know at first that the workshops had been released in this way, as she said consultation is always a part of what she does.
Lefebvre said she “would have reacted in the same way” if she had seen the original postings, and fully supports Indigenous community members who criticized the original wording of the post.
Reacting to the initial post, Wilfrid Laurier professor Heather Taves posted, “I was a swing voter until today, but this is, I must say, a deal-breaker.”
With the Green Party contending with the NDP and other parties for grass roots and Indigenous votes this election, some locals were surprised and disappointed at the apparent lack of Indigenous knowledge in the Facebook post.
Local Indigenous community member, Judy Ross-Mack posted, “I don’t think they’ve spent enough time with aboriginal communities to … try to learn about our teachings.”
According to their official website the Green Party “… affirms all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities have the right to determine their own membership … and fully participate in guiding and directing any and all legal and policy decisions regarding their livelihoods.” The consensus online was that these candidates did not adhere to their own party’s guidelines.
The original post was immediately removed from Facebook,
after what the candidates are calling a mistake by a volunteer. The subsequent
workshops have been cancelled and the candidates are working with Levebre and
the local Indigenous community to correct this mistake and to move forward in a
more appropriate way.