A Sioux Lookout business owner says she wants to clean up the streets of the town, but First Nations leaders say her efforts smack of racism.
Nancy Roy said she launched a survey of residents after a recent rash of violence in downtown Sioux Lookout. She invited people to share their thoughts, in writing, about their safety concerns.
"Sign the sheet if you want to make a difference…" it reads. "Is it a community you want to celebrate 100 years with cop cars and ambulances roaring around and blood on our streets???? I want our town back!"
In a small town with a deep racial divide, the survey has been interpreted by many as an attack on First Nations people.
Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy said businesses in Sioux Lookout depend on First Nations people for the majority of their income.
"Definitely the message seems to be that we like your money but we don’t like to see brown faces," Beardy said.
Roy says she resents Beardy’s accusation.
"Don’t play the racism card here with me," she said. "You can make it a racism issue in your own mind but again come and sit with me and find out what needs to be done, come and help."
Beardy said First Nations leaders are willing to work together with the town on any problems. But he said that can’t be done when the conversation starts by labelling certain people undesirable.