National News

Lodge brochure says aboriginals can't handle booze

By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG - A northern Manitoba fishing lodge faced accusations of racism Wednesday over an online visitors guide that says aboriginals cannot handle alcohol.

"We take great care when hiring our staff, however the subject of native guides must be touched upon," reads a section of the 37-page brochure for Laurie River Lodge near Lynn Lake.

"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. Please do not give my guides alcohol under any circumstances."

Arlen Dumas, chief of the Mathias Colomb First Nation, which includes Pukatawagan, has written a letter demanding an apology from the lodge to every one of it aboriginal employees.

David Harper, grand chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents First Nations across northern Manitoba, was outraged.

"It's totally derogatory, totally treating us like an animal. Basically, you're saying, 'Do not feed the bears,' right? Don't give alcohol to these First Nations.

"Nobody in their right mind would say such comments."

No one at the lodge was immediately available for comment Wednesday. Phone calls, emails and messages through social media were not returned. The lodge's website lists Brent and Erin Fleck as its hosts and gives a winter address in Ponoka, Alta.

The lodge's Facebook page received more than a dozen posts Wednesday denouncing the brochure's wording.

"Disgusting ... it speaks volumes of your own intolerance to basic intelligence," read one comment.

"An incredible display of racism," read another.

Harper said the Manitoba government should look into the matter to see whether it could crack down on the lodge through licensing or some other mechanism.

"In order for licences to be approved, these kind of comments should also be a factor."

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