Racism towards Cowichan Tribes denounced by federal minister as COVID-19 vaccinations begin

Racism towards Cowichan Tribes denounced by federal minister as COVID-19 vaccinations begin
Skye Ryan
Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is denouncing racist comments being directed towards the Cowichan Tribes First Nations community that's fighting a COVID-19 outbreak.

Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is denouncing racist comments being directed towards a British Columbia Indigenous community that’s fighting a COVID-19 outbreak.

Miller says recent comments posted online urging businesses in the Duncan area not to serve Indigenous customers are “disgusting” and “unacceptable.”

He says Canadians do not support such behaviour and he backs local leaders and residents who have spoken up against racism.

Miller’s comments at a news conference in Ottawa today come as B.C.’s First Nations Health Authority and health officials on Vancouver Island issued an open letter supporting the Cowichan Tribes.

Miller is also not the first politician to denounce recent racist comments towards Cowichan Tribes either. Earlier this week, North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau all spoke up against racism being witnessed in the community – both on and offline.

Cowichan Tribes, the largest single band in B.C. with 4,900 members, issued a stay-at-home order until Jan. 22 after reporting 73 COVID-19 cases since Jan. 1.

Cowichan Tribes general manager Derek Thompson says health officials started administering 600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to tribal elders today.

Signs at the COVID-19 vaccination site were indicating that elders over the age of 60 were being given priority to receive their first dose.

Earlier today, CHEK’s Skye Ryan was on scene when Cowichan Tribes elder Polly Williams learned she was next in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Video captured by CHEK shows an emotional and enthusiastic Williams saying “I want to dance and sing.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry revealed on Tuesday that 62,294 people had been vaccinated across the province to date.

With files to Canadian Press.

CHEK NewsCHEK News

Related Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!

CHEK would like to notify you when there's important breaking news.

Notifications can be turned off anytime.