Multiple Cowichan politicians are standing united with Cowichan Tribes to “condemn the recent acts of racism” they say surrounds a prominent animal abuse case that continues this week in Duncan.
“I need my community members not to be living in fear,” said Chief William Seymour.
“When they’re afraid to walk out their door, something needs to be done.”
A rally was held at the Cowichan Tribes Band Office Wednesday morning, with MP Alistair MacGregor, MLA Sonia Furstenau, Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples and North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring taking part.
“While the case surrounding Teddy the dog I think is arguably one of the worst cases of animal abuse we’ve ever seen and certainly has galvanized this community, what’s not acceptable is the racism and hate we’ve seen both in person and on social media that’s in response to it,” said MacGregor.
A message on MacGregor’s website says they will join the Cowichan Tribe and stand together in a call to stop “all acts of racism and let the Justice System do its job.”
In a media release Tuesday, Cowichan Tribes’ Chief William Seymour said the community is feeling “anxious” after reports of recent violence and intimidation on reserve lands, saying the “backlash against the community is clearly stemming from the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of a dog (known as Teddy).”
Seymour added community members were worried about a racial wedge being driven between local Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the community.
“I would hope we can ratchet down the tension and allow the justice system to do its job,” Seymour stated at the end of the release.
“It’s infuriating that a Press Release like this even has to be written,” Siebring said on Facebook.
“Chief Seymour, you need to know that North Cowichan’s Council and residents stand with you.”
Teddy’s story last year has angered many in the community.
When the dog was discovered Feb. 16, 2018, his head was swollen nearly three times its normal size from a rope collar that had cut all the way down to his windpipe, severing both jugular veins.
Teddy died two days later.
Demonstrators have stood outside the Duncan courthouse during court proceedings for Anderson Joe and Melissa Tooshley, the two arrested in the case.
Tooshley pleaded guilty to wilfully neglecting the dog on Feb. 27 and reports have been ordered to assist the court for her sentencing.
Joe pleaded not guilty to causing unnecessary pain, suffering and injury to a dog from Jan. 16 to Feb. 16, 2018, and failing to provide food, water and shelter for the dog.
The case resumes in court Friday.
A suspicious grass fire on Cowichan Tribes land earlier this month had fear running high that vigilantes had struck again, targeting the neighbourhood of the Duncan residents.
Phillip Joe, who lives next door to the home at the centre of the case, had holes pierced in his home last July after someone shot at it.