HAIDA GWAII (NEWS 1130) – A Haida candidate running for the BC Liberals is denouncing racist remarks made about him by an NDP candidate before an all-candidates meeting in Smithers.
Nathan Cullen was heard making fun of Roy Jones Jr. saying, “He is not well-liked, in his – he’s Haida – in his own community,” before mocking his nickname.
“The guy’s gonna get bedrock 20 percent…his name is Kinkles,” he says before snickering.
Cullen eventually apologized Saturday morning, saying he’s spoken to Jones and other Haida leaders.
“I unreservedly apologize for they were inappropriate,” he says. “It was wrong what I said. I take it back entirely and I apologize for the harm that I’ve caused.”
Jones rejects apology
But Jones tells NEWS 1130 Cullen’s statement was misleading since he did not accept the apology.
In a press release, Jones adds when he received the call from Cullen he told him, “He owes an apology to the Haida People.”
“I informed him about the name given to me as a two or three-year-old child and it is used to address me through the years and today most people don’t know my Christian name Roy Jones Jr,” he explains.
“The name was given to me by Mrs. Kobayashi in Japanese it means ‘Golden Boy,’ Mr. and Mrs. Kobayashi were friends of my mom and late dad and as a child I remember dad going to visit all the time until one day her husband left for Japan for his final days and she stayed until she left Haida Gwaii for her final days and lived for another 25 years in Japan before passing away. All the time having contact with my parents.”
Jones tells NEWS 1130 he would also like the NDP’s provincial leader John Horgan to apologize since he represents the party and all its candidates.
Comments are “absolutely disgusting”
Ellis Ross, the BC Liberal candidate for Skeena, tells NEWS 1130 Cullen’s comments are “absolutely disgusting” as discussion about privilege has come up multiple times during the BC campaign.
“I mean we’re trying to get more first nations involved in the political system of BC in Canada, and we have another politician, trying to keep us out. That is disgusting behaviour.”
Ross says Cullen’s comments speak to the experiences many British Columbians face being used for somebody else’s agenda.
“It’s not just Aboriginals. The Indo-Canadian community goes through the same thing. The African community goes through the same thing. How come a politician who is actually saying one thing in public but then goes around and says something else. Why is that acceptable in today’s day and age? We’re making progress in terms of reconciliation accepting all minorities; Canada is supposed to be a melting pot. And here we got Mr. Cullen taking us back 30, 40 years in terms of brutality. This should not be accepted.”
The Liberal candidate says the comments are offensive to his family, his community and other BIPOC communities in B.C.
“I really feel for them and I know what you’re going through. So, I hope Mr. Cullen and the NDP make amends for this.”
‘Here we have insult being added to injury’: Wilkinson
This is not the first controversy involving Cullen and members of the Indigenous community. His nomination led to accusations that the NDP was ignoring its own equity policy by picking him over an Indigenous candidate, Annita McPhee.
BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson tells NEWS 1130 that Cullen is not solely at fault, saying Horgan should take responsibility.
“[Horgan] appointed Nathan overtop of an Indigenous woman who is fully qualified for the job,” he says.
“They had that choice — their equity policy required it, and they ignored it. And now they’re prepared to insult indigenous people as well as to exclude them.”
Under the BC NDP’s mandate, when a male MLA vacates a riding, the party must look for a woman or member of an equity-seeking group.
“It’s time for John Horgan to think seriously about getting rid of Nathan Cullen as their candidate,” Wilkinson says.