Iqaluit councillor resigns over social media post about Black Lives Matter

IQALUIT, Nunavut — An Iqaluit city councillor has resigned over comments she made on social media last week about the Black Lives Matter movement.

At a meeting Tuesday night, city council unanimously passed a motion calling for the resignation of Malaiya Lucassie.

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Lucassie issued a statement Wednesday saying she would resign immediately.

The resignation comes after Lucassie's father, Nunavut legislature member Patterk Netser, made a Facebook post last week criticizing Black women for having abortions. Soon after, the premier stripped Netser of his cabinet portfolios.

Lucassie commented on her father's Facebook post. She said "all lives matter" and questioned why there wasn't a similar movement to Black Lives Matter for Indigenous people.

In her statement Wednesday, Lucassie apologized to the Black community for her comments.

"The city has portrayed me as an Inuk with a racist attitude. Please note that I am not against anyone or the BLM movement. I support and understand the movement as a member of a minority," she wrote.

"All I tried to say and sorry if it was misinterpreted is, why did we not have anything done for the lives of Inuit that have been murdered, raped, and abused? Why was there no such movement?"

She also said minorities "are often told to keep our mouths shut."

"It's time we stand up together and work together rather than going against each other."

The discussion around Lucassie's comments was held in-camera, but all eight councillors voted publicly in favour of her resignation.

Lucassie did not attend the meeting.

Janet Pitsiulaaq Brewster, Iqaluit's deputy mayor, made a public statement before council went in-camera.

"As soon as we hear 'all lives matter' or 'what about Inuit lives', it gives voice and power to anti-Blacks and promotes racism for all racialized groups, as racism affects us all," Pitsiulaaq Brewster said.

"I for one feel honoured that the Black Lives Matter movement has come to Nunavut and has specifically elevated the issue of Inuit rights along with Black and all Indigenous lives."

In a statement, Coun. Romeyn Stevenson said Lucassie's comments breached the city's code of conduct.

"The city council for the municipality of Iqaluit does not abide with the comments that were made by Councillor Lucassie," Stevenson's statement says.

"The council does not condone racism or gender violence and does not accept a world where such comments, or comments such as those made over the weekend, are let go without censure."

Lucassie was first elected to Iqaluit's city council in 2019.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2020.

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