Nathan Cullen, right, looks on as Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader Chief Woos, also known as Frank Alec, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relation, Carolyn Bennett and B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser address the media in Smithers, B.C., Sunday, March 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Nathan Cullen, right, looks on as Wet’suwet’en hereditary leader Chief Woos, also known as Frank Alec, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relation, Carolyn Bennett and B.C. Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser address the media in Smithers, B.C., Sunday, March 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

10 Gitxsan hereditary chiefs call for BC NDP to remove Cullen as Stikine candidate

Ten Gitxsan hereditary chiefs have called for the firing of NDP candidate Nathan Cullen after he was caught on a microphone making comments about an Indigenous BC Liberal candidate in a neighbouring riding.

Cullen, a former federal NDP MP, is running for the MLA spot in the Stikine riding. His comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial, which were made before the all-candidates meeting last week in Smithers sparked criticism on Saturday, Oct. 17.

“He’s not well-liked — he’s Haida — in his own community,” said Cullen, referring to Cheexial. “The guy’s going to get bedrock 20 per cent.”

Cullen then went on to make fun of Cheexial’s nickname, Kinkles, which Cheexial told Vancouver radio station News 1130 means ‘Golden Boy’ in Japanese and was given to him by a family friend when he was a boy. In Japanese folklore, Golden Boy is a child of superhuman strength.

On Saturday, Cullen responded to a BC Liberals staff member’s tweet criticizing his comments.

“I apologize unreservedly for my comments and have done so personally to Roy. I need to, and will, do better,” Cullen tweeted.

On Monday, in an open letter to BC NDP Leader John Horgan, the Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs called for the removal of Cullen as a candidate for the party and for Horgan to take “affirmative action on such disrespectful behaviour.”

Signed by 10 hereditary chiefs, the letter reads: “Anything less will be a further signal of disrespect to Indigenous people in British Columbia, and inconsistent with your stated commitment to reconciliation.”

NDP Leader John Horgan addressed the comments during a campaign stop in the Vancouver Island’s Courtenay-Comox riding Sunday, where he said Cullen feels “great remorse.”

ALSO READ: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

“The repercussions are that Nathan is feeling devastated by this on a personal level. I believe no one will work harder than Nathan now, to rebuild the trust with those who may have started to question that.”

This is not the first time Cullen’s campaign has come under fire. The hereditary chiefs also criticized Horgan’s party for choosing Cullen over Tahltan Central Government president Annita McPhee, with some critical that the BC NDP were going back on their equity policy.

In a separate statement, Haida Nation president Gaagwiis Jason Alsop defended Cullen.

“Former MP Nathan Cullen has worked hard over the years to represent all of the people of the North Coast with respect. Mr. Cullen has established a good relationship with the Haida Nation and his recent comments do not warrant his resignation or an apology to the Haida Nation.”

– with files from Katya Slepian, Terry Farrel and Jake Wray


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Demonstrators lined Hwy 16 May 5 to mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Deb Meissner photo)
VIDEO: Smithers gathering marks Red Dress Day honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

Approximately 70 people lined Hwy 16, drumming, singing and holding up placards

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

The road to Telegraph Creek (Hwy 51) was closed April 15 due to a washout. On May 4, the road was opened to light-duty passenger vehicles during specific times. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure/Facebook)
Telegraph Creek Road opens for light-duty vehicles

Road has been closed since April 15 due to a washout

Gitxsan Nation extends fishing ban for non-Indigenous permit holders indefinitely . (Photo courtesy, Travis Murphy)
Gitxsan Nation extends ban for non-Indigenous fishing permit holders across their territory

The move comes after the province backed away from ongoing discussions with Gitxsan chiefs and DFO

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Most Read