March 16, 2011
'No natives' sign taped to restaurant's door
By Elizabeth Bower, QMI Agency
LAKEFIELD, Ont. – Aboriginal leader Lorenzo Whetung was shocked when he got a call early Wednesday morning telling him that a fish and chips joint in Lakefield, Ont., had sign taped to its front door stating: "No Natives."
"It's hard to believe in this day and age that this stuff is still happening," Whetung, a Curve Lake First Nation councillor, told QMI Agency.
Curve Lake First Nation neighbours Lakefield, located about 150 km northeast of Toronto.
"Our communities are so tied together,” he said. “Even our kids go to school here."
After he got the call, Whetung drove to the Lakefield Village Fish and Chips to see for himself but, when he hopped out of his truck, the sign had already been taken down.
City police are investigating the sign — which had been written in crayon and posted on the outside of the front door — as a hate/bias incident, said Sgt. Walter DiClemente.
The restaurant's owner, meanwhile, said he didn't put up the sign and he has no idea who did.
"There's no racism here, no bigotry here," said owner Mark Kennedy.
He called whoever did it "a—holes" and said he wondered why his business was targeted among the many nearby stores and facilities.
Kennedy said any passerby could have posted it because the store closed on Sunday at about 7 p.m., local time, and didn't re-open until Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.
After speaking with police on Wednesday, Kennedy said officers are reviewing security-camera footage and are following up on a few leads.
Robin Cavanagh, a customer of aboriginal descent, came to talk to Kennedy on Wednesday morning and said he has had calls from people from neighbouring towns who are "deeply offended."
After speaking with Kennedy, Cavanagh said he believes the owner had nothing to do with it.
Curve Lake First Nations Chief Keith Knott said the sign doesn't reflect the feelings of most people in Lakefield.
"Chief Knott is understandably saddened that in 2011 Canada, First Nations people continue to be subjected to this sort of vile and abusive sentiment,” reads a written statement issued by the Curve Lake First Nation.
“We have a long history of positive personal and business relationships with the Village of Lakefield and we fully expect that to continue in spite of this unfortunate incident.”
The East Kawartha Chamber of Commerce called it "regrettable.”
"We cannot understand why someone would post such a sign on a business in our community," said EKCC president Scott Davidson, in a statement issued Wednesday.
"I can say without hesitation that this attitude is not representative of businesses and residents of Lakefield and area. The sign is clearly hurtful and damaging to our community and our relationship with our First Nations neighbours."