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Some Winnipeg mayors are condemning candidate Don Woodstock for speaking up at a forum on women’s issues and arguing that Indigenous men are the cause of violence against Indigenous women.
Woodstock, a security company owner who is running for mayor for a second time, told an audience of about 60 campaign workers and ordinary citizens on Thursday evening that he believes “Aboriginal men” are the reason violence is perpetrated against Indigenous women.
Woodstock made the comments Thursday night at a forum hosted by the Council of Winnipeg Women and held at the Army Navy Air Force Veterans’ John Osborn unit, in Polo Park.
All candidates were asked the same questions beforehand about how they would improve public safety, Winnipeg Transit and housing for women in this city.
When it was Woodstock’s turn to talk about security, he said that “Aboriginal” men have no respect for Indigenous women, which is why there is violence against Indigenous women.
After the forum, he repeated his comments.
VIEW | Don Woodstock Accuses Native Men:
“In my view, in what I’ve seen and what I hear, Indigenous men and youth need to come together to solve this problem of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Here’s the link,” 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 appreciate women.”
Woodstock went on to say that Indigenous men have too many sexual and romantic partners.
“Why do some young people see themselves as the only thing good for them to have multiple wives, multiple lovers, multiple mothers, multiple families?” he asked, adding that he doesn’t believe his opinion is controversial. “I’m giving you my take on what I’ve seen.”
Fellow mayoral candidates Jenny Motkaluk, Rick Shone and Shaun Loney condemned Woodstock’s comments as racist.
Candidate Rana Bokhari briefly walked away when Woodstock made his comments.
‘Disgraceful, disrespectful, totally inaccurate’
“I don’t think I needed to sit here and listen to him spew out absolutely disgraceful, disrespectful, completely inaccurate, factually incorrect, persistent-more-violence-against-women commentary,” she said, adding that Woodstock should have be asked to leave the forum.
“If you’re targeting some of the most vulnerable people in the city, you should go. 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, as if they’re still living in the dark ages,” she said.
Robert-Falcon Ouellette, the only Indigenous candidate on the forum, arrived too late to hear Woodstock’s comment.
“A true Indigenous man who respects what it means to be Indigenous and follows Indigenous philosophy and the warrior way of life has great respect for the whole family,” he said.
Thursday’s forum was attended by 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 at the microphone to make passionate 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 settled a dispute dating back to July, when the former mayor blamed the councilor for initiating a program that helped refugees.
Two candidates also aroused contempt for Winnipeg Transit. Motkaluk said buses in the city are so unsafe that she would not allow her teenage daughter to take the bus.
Shone said his wife, a policewoman, was attacked while waiting for the bus.
At least 10 more debates are scheduled for election day on October 26.