Tsartlip First Nation calls on MLA to apologize after ‘highly offensive’ public statement

Tsartlip First Nation calls on MLA to apologize after 'highly offensive' public statement
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The Tsartlip First Nation is calling on a B.C. MLA to publicly apologize after making a social media post considered to be “highly offensive” to the community.

The Tsartlip First Nation, located on the Saanich Peninusla, says the community is feeling disappointed and angered after B.C. Green Party MLA Adam Olsen cited the First Nation’s past COVID-19 outbreak and shelter-in-place order.

Olsen made the post on Twitter Tuesday, publicly announcing the Tsartlip First Nation had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak within the community.

“The Tsartlip First Nation has been experiencing an outbreak of COVID19 and we have been under shelter-in-place orders for weeks. As a result, all adults in the Tsartlip community are being vaccinated this week,” read Olsen’s tweet.

“This is an important part of the provincial vaccination program to better protect Indigenous communities experiencing outbreaks. I am a member and resident of Tsartlip, I will receive my vaccine on Wednesday March 3, 2021. I am providing this information about getting vaccinated earlier than anticipated because I believe transparency is critical.”

According to the Tsartlip First Nation, the community had “strategically” chosen to not publically announce a COVID-19 outbreak, due to racism being experienced by the Cowichan Tribes — another First Nation community on Vancouver Island that has been dealing with an outbreak of the virus.

The First Nation said in a statement on Thursday that it felt there was “no other option” but to respond to Olsen’s tweet and clarify their current status.

“Tsartlip First Nation had an outbreak at the end of January 2021 and issued a shelter-in-place order Monday, February 8, 2021. Our membership’s hard work to social distance and shelter-in-place was effective. To be clear, Tsartlip First Nation currently has no active cases of COVID-19. The last positive test result in Tsartlip was February 6, 2021,” said Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation.

“Tsartlip has witnessed the cruel racism that our relatives of the Cowichan Tribes experienced and we chose to not subject Tsartlip members to this and kept our outbreak status private. Had MLA Olsen picked up the phone to give me a call, he would be aware of the sensitive nature of this topic in our community.”

The Tsartlip First Nation is now calling on Olsen to publicly apologize and issue public statements about the community to the Tsartlip Chief and leadership.

“MLA Olsen’s public statement is highly offensive, and grossly oversteps the bounds of an MLA. Tsartlip has a right to self-determination, we cannot have an MLA misrepresenting our First Nation, and taking liberties to make public statements without consulting Tsartlip,” reads a statement from Tom.

“Our membership now feel angst and worry for their social well-being.”

Olsen indicated in his tweet that, as a result of the outbreak, all adults would be receiving first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this week.

Vaccinations to members of the Tsartlip that were 16 and over were scheduled to begin on Wednesday, March 4


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