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Tofino business owner compares mask-wearing to residential schools, sparks outrage

Last Updated Apr 8, 2021 at 1:35 pm PDT

FILE - Packages of face masks. (CITYNEWS/Tony Fera)

Business owner in Tofino posts apology after comparing mask-wearing to residential schools

Indigenous community speaks out after Tofino business owner's inflammatory comments

TOFINO (NEWS 1130) – Some survivors of Canada’s residential school system are speaking out as a business owner in Tofino apologizes for comments comparing mask-wearing to what they experienced.

Angie Roussin, who owns a print shop business in Tofino and Ucluelet, posted on Instagram last week saying that the “government is harming our kids on purpose like they have done with so many children in the past” in response to mandatory mask wearing in classrooms.

Her post went on to say “All our schools have become residential schools.”

While Roussin’s post has since been edited and she’s apologized, her comments have not gone unnoticed.

Chief Moses Martin of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, who is a survivor of residential school and whose older brother died in the system, tells the Westerly News in Ucluelet he’s “grieved” at the woman’s comments.

“I’ll put a mask on any day instead of the experience that I had,” Martin told the outlet.

Meanwhile, APTN quotes Savannah George from the Ucluelet First Nation (Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ Government), saying Roussin “has no right to use the traumatic legacy of residential schools for her own purposes.”

“I think she did this for her own personal agenda of anti vax and anti mask. I think she did this to serve her own white privilege,” George told APTN.

Roussin, who has been an outspoken anti-masker and anti-vaxxer, posted an apology to a Facebook community board two days after the original went up.

“Using the example of residential schools was completely thoughtless. The suffering and hurt that I caused by my post comparing residential schools to masks in schools was insensitive, inappropriate and disrespectful,” she wrote on Sunday, April 4.

“Furthermore, deleting and turning off comments on people who have already been silenced throughout history caused even more harm,” she added, referring to the original post.

“I deeply regret my actions and the hurt which I have caused our communities–more specifically the indigenous people that have suffered so deeply. I have also once again brought enormous pain on my employees, who do not share my perspective at all,” Roussin continued.

However, many people in that community group have not taken to her apology.

“This is just to save face,” one person wrote in response to the apology.

“You apologize for silencing us then continue to silence us. Why Angie why be this way?” another post reads.

Thousands of First Nation, Inuit, and Metis children were forced to attend residential schools across Canada.

The last residential school didn’t close until 1996.