“Resign! Resign! Resign!”
The protestors chanted during a demonstation outside of the Nanaimo Daily News office on Mar. 28. They were hoping to lure out the newspaper’s Managing Editor, Mark MacDonald.
The protest was organized via social media in under 24 hours, and held in response to a letter to the editor appearing in the Wednesday, Mar. 27 edition of the Nanaimo Daily News. The letter, written by Don Olsen, was titled “Educate First Nations to be modern citizens” and listed items the First Nations allegedly never invented, or incorporated into their society, and claimed that, “[First Nations people] have a history that is notable only for underachievement.”
Outraged and offended, several VIU students joined First Nations representatives outside the Nanaimo Daily News office just before noon on Thursday.
“I’m shocked that in 2013 a community newspaper would be so irresponsible to publish an article such as this,” Cheryl Gourley, a VIU student, says in regards to the letter.
Mary Wise, a member of the Snuneymuxw First Nations and VIU student, says that it felt “like a kick in the rear end.”
Wise and Gourley joined other VIU students and representatives of the community, including Mayor John Ruttan, Chief Doug White of the Snuneymuxw First Nations, and the National Chief of Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo, at the protest.
When Atleo arrived, he gave a quick speech. Within his speech he said, “Words can hurt or they can heal. Words can unite or they can divide. Words can cause pain or they can bring about healing.”
The protesters called for a full front-page apology and retraction. They were also calling for MacDonald to either resign or be let go. The publisher of the Nanaimo Daily News, Hugh Nicholson, spoke for MacDonald, stating that their statement was already published on their website, and that they had nothing more to add. The statement apologizes for publishing the letter, while highlighting that it was published as a letter to the editor and does not represent the views of any of those who work at the Nanaimo Daily News nor the newspaper itself.