By: Mary Agnes Welch
Winnipeg Free Press
Pukatawagan Chief Arlen Dumas has demanded an apology after a northern fly-in fishing lodge asked visitors to avoid giving Cree guides alcohol "under any circumstances."
The Laurie River Lodge sparked a Facebook firestorm Wednesday when part of its travel guide to fly-in fishermen and hunters was widely shared online, especially among members of the nearby Pukatawagan band.
"We use Cree Indian guides from the town of Pukatawagon (sic) in northern Manitoba. They are wonderful people and fun to fish with however, like all Native North Americans, they have a basic intolerance for alcohol," wrote owner Brent Fleck. "Please do not give my guides alcohol under any circumstances. This is rarely a problem and by telling you in advance I hope to avoid it altogether.
In response, Dumas released a statement today calling the passage offensive and racist and demanding an apology from the lodge’s owners.
"None of the above statements or implications about our people are true." wrote Dumas in a letter to the lodge. "The comments are racist and negative stereotypes which only serve to promote or incite hatred against our people. There is no scientific basis for your claim that Cree people have an intolerance for alcohol, nor is there any basis for alleging that our Cree people would drink while working or that the pose a risk to the public."
The Free Press has called the lodge owner for comment, and is awaiting a reply.
Dumas also noted the lodge uses the band’s traditional territory for hunting and fishing, and the lodge, located just south of Lynn Lake, is located on his grandfather’s trapline.
The paragraph is not easy to find on the lodge’s website. It is part of a 37-page trip planning guide that includes advice about what to pack, how American visitors can get their guns into Canada, what kind of fishing is on offer and many other tips about remote northern fly-in lodges.
The guide is dated 2014, but it’s not clear how long it’s been online.
It’s discovery today sparked widespread criticism on social media, including on the lodge’s Facebook page.
"As a Cree hospitality business owner, I was very disappointed to read such ignorance from a fellow hospitality owner," wrote Candice Tourville. "You are free to your own personal views on my people, but as a business owner, it is shameful that you’d corrupt your guests’ views of Native people.
Even Juno-nominated musician Desiree Dorion weighed in.
"These stereotypes are getting so f**ing old already," she said.