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Manitoba Aboriginal Leader Questions Use of Word ‘Native’ in Police Release

June 29, 2015 9:50 AM | News

By The Canadian Press

Brandon Police Service CrestBRANDON, Man. — A First Nations leader in Manitoba says a media release from Brandon police that referred to “three intoxicated natives” should have been worded in a more sensitive manner.

The June 26 release from the police website stated officers were called to a local business because there were “three intoxicated natives outside the business asking people to buy them beer.”

It says a Brandon man and a resident of Sioux Valley, west of the city, were arrested and held until they were sober.

Another man from Brandon was held to appear in court the next day due to outstanding warrants and for breaching an undertaking and recognizance with a condition to abstain from consuming alcohol.

Grand Chief Terry Nelson of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization says use of the word native should be considered more carefully.

“In this release it would seem the Brandon police are seeming more to uphold a stereotype than anything else. It’s not necessary to refer to them as natives or to identify the race of the people,” said Nelson

He noted that since the individuals were not being sought and were in custody, there was no need to mention their race after the arrests were made.

The aboriginal leader said he would hold off judging the public information officer’s release until it could be determined whether words such as Caucasian or Asian are used to describe non-aboriginal people in other situations where arrests were made.

“The police need to be more sensitive. They could be more sensitive in the way this information is issued. To me, is it a big issue? Somewhat.”

Calls to Brandon police were not immediately returned.

CP - The Canadian Press