Last summer, three women (two residents of Manitoba and one from Sask) were accused of racist posts addressed to representatives of the Indigenous people of Manitoba, which they posted on their Facebook accounts.
On Wednesday, Indigenous mediation circle took place and two of the women were at Opaskwayak Cree Nation, near The Pas.
"It's history in the making … it's history in dealing with non-Indigenous perpetrators," OCN Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair said. "To be able to deal with them in this manner, I think, provides an opportunity for government and for the Indigenous community and the justice system to come together and say, 'Is there a better way doing justice in Canada?' And I truly think there is."
The whole story began after one of the women (Spiller) posted on her Facebook a photo of her painted car and wrote that she was going to kill several Indigenous people. According to the woman, they were guilty of what happened. Moreover, she called the Indigenous population beasts that should be kept locked up. The second woman agreed with her and wrote racist comments and suggestions.
Immediately after the incident, Spiller lost her job and both women were arrested. The third woman who also participated in racism commenting was arrested a month later.
On Wednesday, about 20 Indigenous people were in the mediation circle. Sinclair said that the meeting was of great importance both for all indigenous people and for the rest of Canada.
"It wasn't an impact on an individual — it was an impact on all Indigenous people throughout Canada and really around the world, for that matter," Sinclair stated. "Elder Stan Wilson from Opaskwayak asked them to read out, word-for-word, what they said. Now you really see the emotion on the faces of these people who would normally be hiding behind a computer, typing their feelings, their racist thoughts."
As Sinclair explained, the women repented and understood their guilt. If they were sent to prison, the opposite effect could occur and they would hate the Indigenous even more.
However, not all people agreed with him. Many were in favour of sending the women to prison.
Next week there will be another meeting, without the participation of women, where the decision regarding the punishment for defendants will be made. On February 13, the information will be told to both women.