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Some Winnipeg mayoral candidates are condemning candidate Don Woodstock for speaking at a forum on women’s issues and saying that Indigenous men are the cause of violence against Indigenous women.
Woodstock, a security company owner who is running for mayor for the second time, told an audience of about 60 mayoral campaign workers and ordinary citizens on Thursday night that he believed “Indigenous men” were the reason for the violence being committed against Aboriginal women.
Woodstock made the comments Thursday night at a forum hosted by the Winnipeg Women’s Council and held at the John Osborn Navy Air Force Veterans Unit in Polo Park.
All nominees were given the same questions, in advance, about how they would improve Winnipeg’s public safety, public transit and housing for women in this city.
When it was Woodstock’s turn to address the issue of security, he said that “native” men don’t respect native women, and that’s why there is violence against native women.
After the forum, he repeated his words.
WATCH | Don Woodstock accuses Aboriginal men:
“In my opinion, from what I’ve seen and what I’m hearing, Indigenous men and youth need to come to the table to address this issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. That’s the connection,” Woodstock said.
“In most cases, if you talk to them and listen to them and listen to how they see and value women, it’s not the same as how I see and value women.”
Woodstock went on to say that Indigenous men have too many sexual and romantic partners.
“Why do some young people consider themselves as the only thing that is good for them is to have several wives, several lovers, several mothers, several families?” he asked, adding that he didn’t believe his opinion was controversial. “I give you my vision of what I saw.”
Fellow mayoral candidates Jenny Motkaluk, Rick Shone and Shaun Loney condemned Woodstock’s comments as racist.
Candidate Rana Bokhari briefly stepped out when Woodstock made her comments.
“Shameful, disrespectful, completely inaccurate”
“I don’t think I needed to sit here and listen to him spit out this absolutely disgraceful, disrespectful, completely inaccurate, factually incorrect comment that perpetuates more violence against women,” she said, adding that Woodstock should have been asked to leave the forum.
“When you victimize some of the most vulnerable people in town, you should go there. This is not the place for you.”
Forum organizer Brenda Buleziuk said she was disappointed.
“It saddens me to hear people still talk like that, like they’re still in the dark ages,” she said.
Robert-Falcon Ouellette, the only Indigenous candidate at the forum, arrived too late to hear Woodstock’s comment.
“A true Native man who respects what it means to be Native and follows the Native philosophy and the warrior way of life has a lot of respect for the whole family,” he said.
Thursday’s forum featured 10 of Winnipeg’s 11 mayoral candidates: Idris Adelakun, Bokhari, Chris Clacio, Scott Gillingham, Loney, Motkaluk, Glen Murray, Ouellette, Shone and Woodstock.
Only Kevin Klein, the outgoing councilor for Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood, chose not to attend.
Most of the candidates who took part in the forum used their time on the microphone to make impassioned statements about the need to protect women, refugees, the LGBT community and other vulnerable Winnipeggers.
But there was also conventional politics. Motkaluk accused Murray, the city’s former mayor, and Gillingham, the outgoing St. James councilor, of failing to improve Winnipeg during their tenure.
Murray and Gillingham also reignited a dispute from July, when the former mayor accused the councilor of launching a refugee aid scheme.
Two candidates also looked down on Winnipeg Transit. Motkaluk said city buses are so dangerous that she would not allow her teenage daughter to ride the bus.
Shone said his wife, a police officer, was attacked while waiting for the bus.
There are at least 10 more debates scheduled before Election Day on October 26.