A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Indigenous People’s Day is June 26. It has been updated to reflect Indigenous People’s Day is June 21 in Canada.
A sign reading “White lives matter too” was left on the Muskoday bridge between 9 and 9:45 a.m., according to RCMP.
The sign has an offensive message, including stereotypes about Indigenous people. A pair of shoes were also placed with the sign, a symbol used recently to represent the unmarked graves found at residential schools in B.C. and Saskatchewan.
The First Nation displayed shoes on that bridge for Indigenous People’s Day on June 21.
Muskoday First Nation’s chief said she considers this a hate crime during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
“I don’t know if technically and legally that’s what it is, but to me, it’s a crime of hate … Ignorance plays a key role in the situation that happened here today,” Chief Ava Bear said.
“It’s disgusting that this individual, this male, would hang these shoes.”
Bear said she would like an apology from the person responsible for the sign, and said she hopes they can learn and work toward reconciliation.
“They haven’t taken the time to educate themselves on any of these topics because if they listened to the media, nobody has said White lives don’t matter,” she said.
“It’s just totally not acceptable. It’s blatant racism. This individual did this in the light of day. They didn’t try to hide themselves. They parked their vehicle right on the highway.”
Bear said several people saw the person putting up the sign and called to report it.
Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand also spoke. He said educating people is important to work toward a better Saskatchewan for Indigenous people.
“We have an opportunity here to help this man and this person deal with whatever he’s dealing with in a proper way, because this is not reconciliation, this is promoting hatred and anger towards Indigenous people,” he said.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) said it would like to see the province develop an anti-racism strategy to educate people about things like treaty rights, so negative stereotypes, such as Indigenous people get free housing and don’t pay taxes, are disbanded.
“A lot of these are treaty benefits and these treaty benefits come because of our agreement to share with the land,” FSIN vice-president David Pratt explained.
In an email, Prince Albert RCMP said they’re investigating the incident, and encourages anyone with information to contact them.