Mayor Lorraine Michetti refusing to step down amid calls for her resignation. (Submitted)

Mayor Lorraine Michetti refusing to step down amid calls for her resignation. (Submitted)

Rural B.C. mayor urged to resign after Facebook post against Indigenous people, pipelines

The mayor is refusing to quit, saying the post was taken out of context

A rural B.C. mayor is being bombarded with calls to resign, following a Facebook post that’s being called racist against Indigenous people.

Lorraine Michetti, mayor of Pouce Coupe, a small village in northeast B.C. near the Alberta border, posted photos of garbage-strewn lawns with the comment, “Don’t want Pipeline’s? They want to protect our land. Yeah ok.”

Council reacted quickly, voting to remove Michetti of her mayoral duties, though it lacks the legal power to remove her from office.

Michetti is refusing to step down, saying the post was taken out of context and misunderstood.

Her initial response was to share an apology letter, saying she understood the photo was a “grave mischaracterization of who the First Nation and Metis people are and for that I apologize.”

Michetti told Black Press Media the image was actually a few years old, and she realized at the time it was inappropriate and removed it. But last week, someone sent her a screenshot of the old post, in a way the mayor interpreted as blackmail. Rather than waiting for that person to share it, Michetti posted it herself, she said.

It caught the attention of local Indigenous peoples, who were offended.

Tammy Lee Watson is a former councillor for the Saulteau First Nation, who also used to work as an Indigenous advisor to the provincial government.

“In all the years I had been involved in politics, we had developed a First Nations competency program to help governments and other people get close to understanding our differences, and really helping people understand the definition of racism,” she said.

“We have many people who claim, ‘I’m not racist, I’ve lived with First Nations people my whole life,’ but then they can still make statements like that.”

Michetti agreed to attend a cultural awareness program, which can be a good first step, Watson said, but added, “You don’t get to have a certificate and say, ‘I’m not racist anymore.’ You need to spend time with people in the community, travel to the reservations and take a good look at how her information is misconstrued. For one, the nations here haven’t protested a pipeline.”

Watson wants to see Michetti apologize publicly, admit the comment was racist, and make a real commitment to visit the communities.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


municipal politicsracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Youth from Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and the Kootenays were able to dig into two evenings of online learning and connection through United Way Southern Interior B.C.’s <CODE>anagan program. (Submitted)<code> </code>
CODEanagan gives youth a chance to learn about technology

The youth, aged 12 to 21, built their own WordPress sites and developed blogging ideas

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

Sylvain Fabi, Canada’s chief negotiator for the Columbia River Treaty, joined a number of government and Indigenous government stakeholders for a virtual town hall on Feb. 24, 2021, to update the state of the Columbia River Treaty negotiations. Trevor Crawley photo/Zoom screenshot
Indigenous input key to Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Ecosystem function included in negotiations along with flood management and power generation priorities

Okanagan patients will benefit from the recent inclusion of the Medical Arts Health Research Group in a worldwide study with the National Institute of Health (NIH). The study will be a global collaboration for finding better treatments for COVID-19. (File photo)
Okanagan research group involved with finding better COVID treatments

Okanagan Medical Arts Health Research Group invited to collaborate in global study

Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project is on track, with closures expected to start as early as next week. (Government of BC photo)
Details announced ahead of Trans-Canada highway closures east of Golden

Closures will start in early March, with a month-long closure from April 12 to May 14

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: Island teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Larch Place is the first building to be built in the BC Housing, Canadian Mental Health Association housing project at the corner of Third Street SW and Fifth Avenue SW. This view is from the Shuswap Street side where it sits behind the Graystone East building. (File photo)
Opening of doors at new housing development in Salmon Arm welcomed

BC Housing announces opening of 32 rental units, with 35 more expected in summer 2021

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Most Read