Canada's top general condemns Forces members who disrupted Indigenous event -

Canada’s top general condemns Forces members who disrupted Indigenous event

On Canada Day, a group of Armed Forces members dressed in black polos and carrying a Red Ensign, disrupted an Indigenous spiritual ceremony

Rear Admiral John Newton, Commander of MARLANT and JTF Atlantic, arrives to speak with reporters at HMC Dockyard in Halifax, NS Tuesday July 4, 2017. The military says five men involved in a filmed confrontation at an Indigenous ceremony in Halifax are members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and any misconduct will be addressed. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Rear Admiral John Newton, Commander of MARLANT and JTF Atlantic, arrives to speak with reporters at HMC Dockyard in Halifax, NS Tuesday July 4, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS

HALIFAX – Canada’s top general has condemned the actions of a group of Armed Forces members who disrupted a spiritual event on Canada Day marking the suffering of Indigenous Peoples at a statue of Halifax’s controversial founder, Edward Cornwallis.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, called the incident “deplorable” and said the men will be removed from training and duties while the incident is investigated.

On Saturday, the group of men were clad in black polo shirts with yellow piping — one of them carrying a Red Ensign Flag — as they approached singing “God Save the Queen,” one Mi’kmaq organizer said. The Canadian Red Ensign, which bears the Union Jack in the corner, was the national flag until it was replaced by the Maple Leaf design in 1965.

The men said they were members of the Proud Boys, a self-declared group of “Western Chauvinists.”

Cornwallis, as governor of Nova Scotia, founded Halifax in 1749, and soon after issued a bounty on Mi’kmaq scalps in response to an attack on colonists. His legacy has become controversial, with debate recently over the use of his name on buildings, street signs and parks.

In a statement Tuesday night, Vance was the latest official to offer an apology to the Indigenous community, adding that the actions of the men “certainly do not represent the broader group of proud women and men who serve our country.”

“I detest any action by a Canadian Armed Forces member that is intended to show disrespect towards the very people and cultures we value in Canada,” Vance said. “We are the nation’s protectors, and any member of the Canadian Armed Forces who is not prepared to be the defender we need them to be will face severe consequences, including release from the Forces.”

Earlier Tuesday, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said there will be consequences for military personnel who “express intolerance while in — or out — of uniform.”

Sajjan also apologized to Halifax’s Mi’kmaq community and Chief Grizzly Mamma, who took part in the ceremony, “for the pain this incident has caused.”

“I know my words cannot undo the disrespect that was shown to you and your community. I know our government has much more work to do with respect to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” he said in a statement.

“But I want to give you my personal assurance that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated within the ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence.”

The commander of Canada’s East Coast Navy confirmed that six members of the military, including members of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian army and a member of a cadet organization, were involved.

“I told the young people they had crossed a line where their personal beliefs, their personal ideology — which they are allowed to have — got into the public domain,” Rear Admiral John Newton, commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic, told reporters at a news conference in Halifax.

“Their personal beliefs, whether religious, political or white supremacy, whatever the Proud Boys represent, it’s not a shared value of the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Newton said he received complaints from Aboriginal friends, and there was a “considerable outcry” from serving members of the Forces.

“I apologize for the actions of my young sailors, and … I hope that those young people will find a moment to make their own apologies in due course.”

A video of the incident at the Cornwallis statue shows five men interacting with spectators at the ceremony.

“This is a British colony,” one of the men says in the video. “You’re recognizing the heritage and so are we.”

In the video, one of the spectators appears to hold an upside-down Canadian flag, which someone implies has been marked with the word “decolonize.”

Asked if the group is associated with an organization, one of the men in the video says, “The Proud Boys, Maritime chapter.”

The Proud Boys Canadian Chapters Facebook page says they are “a fraternal organization of Western Chauvinists who will no longer apologize for creating the modern world” and do not discriminate on the basis of race or sexuality.

A witness to the interaction says the men kept their voices down as the ceremony continued and left after about 10 minutes.

A person close to one of the individuals involved in the incident, who agreed to speak to The Canadian Press on the condition that their identity not be revealed, said the men were on a pub crawl on Saturday.

One was carrying the old Red Ensign to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary when they passed by the Cornwallis statue and noticed an upside-down Canadian flag with black markings, the person said.

The men did not intend to provoke people at the gathering, the person said, but were trying to peacefully defend the flag they fight for.

The person said the man they know doesn’t hold hateful views and is no longer associated with The Proud Boys. The man was acting out of character due to a combination of youth and intoxication, they said, and he deeply regrets the incident, but believes the army is taking appropriate action.

Rebecca Moore, who participated in Saturday’s ceremony, said in an interview Monday that the military shouldn’t tolerate the men’s behaviour, adding that it was far from an isolated incident.

“It’s military men coming and disturbing Indigenous women doing a ceremony,” said Moore. “That is like a story since the beginning of them landing here.

“The military has to say, ‘They don’t represent us.'”

With files from Michael MacDonald


Canada’s top general condemns Forces members who disrupted Indigenous event

  1. Good day;
    Appreciate the work you do. However, can you work harder to have the picture more related to the title headline. Headline reads General (General Vance) yet picture is of an Admiral (Rear Admiral Newton, later in the story). To military folk there is a big difference between a General and an Admiral so looking at the headline and the picture makes us question your expertise. The picture is captioned correctly but people tend to associate the picture with the title and in this case it doesn’t match, although it is associated.

  2. Yes, a little more military discipline is in order……and some history classes.

    Bloody idiots.

  3. Newton’s description of the offenders as “the young people” and “my young sailors” is concerning. What difference does their age make in relation to their behaviour? Is he preparing us for a “boys will be boys” defence where he’ll minimize their actions due to their youth? Are there different expectations placed on members of the Canadian Armed Forces based on their age?

  4. What a crock and another biased traitor catering to those who call themselves “First” without acknowledging the freedom and right to celebrate Canada Day anywhere!! The guys did NOTHING wrong unlike the Aboriginals did when they interfered in Canada celebrations!!! And under treaty 1? THAT was illegal!! So go ahead bombard me with your negativity for saying so. It’ll be water of a duck’s back!!!!

  5. Chief Grizzly Mama & her cubs seem to be confrontational even combative , have some mental issues and was looking for a confrontation!! I’ll bet they were really disappointed that there was none but realized that the Navy ‘boys” were only exercising their rights, maybe were even trying to reconcile the past and present with the Aboriginals to create a united Canada, (a fact that the Indians have a hard time comprehending because many, especially this group, just want segregation, hatred and living in the rewritten past.) Brits & Europeans neither deny having participated in historic slaughter both as victims and perpetrators, but neither do they sit and whine hundreds of years later blaming life’s misfortunes on such history. Unlike the Aboriginals who deny that they were perpetrators but only play the victim card!! Yes, while it might well be easier to sit and cry over spilled milk it is far more productive to clean away the mess and get on with life rather than obsessing over history.
    A) The “boys” were only performing their rights and showing that that they and Canada Day needs to be respected too!! So they have done NOTHING wrong! B) The Aboriginals want respect for their ceremony yet disrespect our Canada Day ceremony!! C) Aboriginals were/are disrespectful to our ceremony on Canada Day starting on the Friday and have YET to apologize for the atrocities that their ancestors committed on colonists/our ancestors!! Am so sick of their crap and trying to “oppress” Canadians!! Do they even KNOW the meaning of oppression, racism and bigotry? I sure know the meaning of those words and the big one is bullying and that is what the whiners are doing to Canadians.!!! The Navy boys did nothing wrong!!!!!! The Indians are trying to oppress Canadians rights and freedoms!!!!! No good can come of these Indians actions!! Seems this group and many Indians hate to have us do as they seem to want to oppress Canadians, taking away our rights and freedom — especially the freedom of speech and right of movement and ceremony which is totally against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and especially the Treaties which they obviously are NOT honoring but only alienating themselves. So therefore they do Not deserve respect or honor!!!!. In Treaty 1, it says the following, “And the undersigned Chiefs do hereby
    bind and pledge themselves and their people strictly to observe this treaty and
    to maintain perpetual peace between themselves and Her Majesty’s white
    subjects, and not to interfere with the property or in any way molest the
    persons of Her Majesty’s white or other subjects”. The Indians are
    breaking the treaty. And it’s illegal to block a thoroughfare. The police
    should arrest them.
    They do seem to want to be the first to run to the media for attention and more whining and crying!! Yes, Bellegarde, you are “bringing Canada to its knees”, as you threatened, and no good can come of it because Canadians are not going to stand by and be oppressed and put up with crap!!!! Many Aboriginals started trying to shut our rights and freedom of speech down on June 30 & July 1/2017 with their asinine protests, hatred and racism against Whites and those who are not Aboriginal (most are not true Aboriginal anyway, just plain mixed and mixed up/confused) who only wants confrontation and to have only their side heard!!!!!!! I hope they have a fricking Nice Day somewhere else in their snowflake la la land!!!!!!!
    This is total bullshit and double standards!!! Those Aboriginals who interfered with protests etc did not respect or understand Canadians when we celebrated 150 years of Canada’s birthday so they do NOT deserve understanding or respect now!! Their “people” have gone too far this Canada Day weekend. We will not sit still. And they get NO apology from me!! Their lies and bullying will face retaliation and their National Aboriginal Day is coming!!!! That is NOT a threat anymore than their “people” make or Bellegarde made when he threatened to “bring Canada to its knees”!! Mark my words!!!!!! This is shameful behavior from the Aboriginals and the navy commander who kissed ass and apologized. Will Bellegarde apologize to Canadians for his “peoples” irresponsible terrorist like behavior. Our Navy boys did NOTHING wrong, they were being patriotic to Canada!! Why should they or the Armed Forces respect, understand or fight for the Aboriginals now, why should any Canadian? Not surprised that the natives received some push back over their protest and should expect more as people are becoming increasingly fed up with their constant playing the victim. That attitude has held them back. Who says life is fair but when immigrants – and we are all immigrants – can come here and make a success of their lives the natives can do the same. I don`t go in for racial slurs and that sort of thing but my vision of Canada is of equals and no special status for any one group. So tough, Chief, you get no support from me. Everybody has the right of peaceful demonstration, everybody. These Proud Boys, Maritime Chapters kept their voices down and left after 10 minutes. I hope the Navy Members won’t be disciplined for their presence.

  6. While the Navy has produced its share of alcoholics, it is worth noting that it appears to have a population of assoholics too. What did they think they were accomplishing? Cornwallios is well beyond giving a fig and they’re showing up might encourage the Indians to think about scalping again. Oh? Scalping was an European idea? Fancy that, one that didn’t last.

  7. The proud Canadian boys were calm, peaceful and friendly unlike the alt left aboriginals and their misguided supporters at their demonstration to disparage a Canadian monument.

    The alt left can be clearly seen advancing on the young men, trying to antagonizie them while insisting they leave the public area.

    The politically correct response from the military criticizing the men is laughable. They behaved with utmost restraint while excercising their constitutional right to assemble.

    Here is the video proof of the confrontation.