‘I have native friends but this is going too far.’ – Alberton, Ontario resident

Native group-home proposal sparks racial tension in Ontario town (The Globe and Mail):

All Lori Flinders wanted was to build a group home for displaced native youth in the town of Alberton, Ont. What she encountered was a wave of local resistance that, to her, provided a lesson in reflexive racism.


The Alberton story takes place at a time when Canada is coming to grips with centuries of legislated bigotry through the federal residential-schools apology and the ongoing Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And it suggests, on the local level at least, that the stain of racial conflict has not gone away.

Since September, 2008, Weechi-it-te-win Family Services had been exploring the property in Alberton, a paper-mill town of about 1,000 people. It seemed an ideal setting for a children’s group home: 166 acres of nature trails, horse stables, an indoor arena and much of the flora used in local aboriginal medicine.


But then a flyer turned up in local mailboxes warning residents if they did not attend a June 24, 2009 meeting, “You will have a NON-SECURE NATIVE DETENTION CENTRE/GROUP HOME IN YOUR COMMUNITY.” The flyer concluded, “PLEASE! HELP KEEP YOUR COMMUNITY SAFE.”

Aside from the flyer’s factual distortion – none of the children would be involved with the courts – the racial undertones worried at least one resident.

Dorothy Friesen, who moved to Alberton to retire from a career of charity work and activism in the Philippines and Chicago, thought it was the work of “a few whackos” and that “we’d go to this meeting and outnumber them.” When she arrived at the Alberton Municipal Office that night, however, she found more than 150 people had turned out to oppose the centre.

“They said the most awful things,” Ms. Friesen recalled. “They said they’d have to lock their doors now. One person said, ‘I have native friends but this is going too far.’ Another person brought an article about a murder around an Alberta group home. So all of a sudden this youth centre is being equated with violence and murder.”

Meanwhile, at one point in the evening, Ms. Flinders recalls a woman turning to her and saying, “Don’t you get it? we don’t want you here.”

To Ms. Flinders, the council meeting inspired a personal epiphany. “I’d never experienced racism like I did there,” she said. “I grew up in this area and never realized the kind of harsh feelings that lay just below the surface. In a way, it was a gift.”

Read more: Native group-home proposal sparks racial tension in Ontario town (via robschmidt) (via Racialicious)

18 Responses to “‘I have native friends but this is going too far.’ – Alberton, Ontario resident”

  1. JP Says:

    Oh man. That makes me feel kinda sick. Although, now that I think about it, we’d definitely get similar reactions from this proposal down here in Australia.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    rather have a native group home beside me
    than a black group home!
    you would have to bolt down everything.
    For the native, just lock the liquoir cabinet!
    For an asian hide youre cats and dogs!
    A white group home would stink like kraft dinner!

  3. boylouie Says:

    Another reminder of how far we’ve got to go in Canada. I really feel sorry for our First Nations people, they have gone through so much oppression, violence, and derogation and when there is one step in the right direction, there are many more “examples” in the media of where they’ve lost ground. In Vancouver, I see it in the downtown East Side; in the broader country, I see it in television shows and in articles such as this.

    I am very disgusted with that statement, “I have native friends but this is going too far.” What’s that supposed to mean? You have native friends, but even that won’t contain your stronger racist sentiments?

    The worst part of bigotry is that it blinds people from opportunity. This proposal has the opportunity for everyone to benefit: the First Nations youth for having a place of their own in their own country; the townspeople for having a chance to learn and maybe be a part of the transformation of people; Canada for heading in a direction where First Nations people have a future.

  4. fred Says:

    That “group home for displaced youth” sounds like a great idea. Who wouldn’t want to live next door to that crap?

  5. Asada Says:

    @ Fred and Anonymous –

    go to hell.

  6. fred Says:

    I’ve been there but I didn’t like it because it had a “group home for displaced youth”.

  7. Elissa Says:

    I must say, totally not surprised because “small town mentality” tends to be, well, small. I do appreciate the support of the non-Aboriginal people who acknowledge racism. I’d rather live next door to a group home than to a not-so-smart, racist, inbred person/thing.
    Looks like Canada has a lot of studying to do. I myself have an educated background, nope, not on taxpayers dime. I did it myself. It’d be awesome if the people who are racist could educate themselves too. I know, high hopes.

  8. fred Says:

    Elissa writes I’d rather live next door to a group home than to a not-so-smart, racist, inbred person/thing.

    Have you ever lived next to a group home, halfway house, government housing, etc? I didn’t think so. I’ve seen plenty of hypocrites who push for integration. But when it comes to their neighborhood they’re always the first to put up the “for sale” sign.

  9. Jayn Says:

    Gotta love the NIMBYs :/ I understand the sentiment, usually, but I always want to ask–where do you expect these people to live?

  10. fred Says:


    Since this is a group home for exclusively native youth they might try locating it on or at least near a rez.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    how about having a black native group home beside you?
    now that would be a treat wouldnt it?

  12. fred Says:


    I grew up near an all black government housing project. It was a dream come true.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    not for the insurance companys!

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Fred seems to uneducated himself.

  15. Tyler Says:

    Freddie seems to be one of those butt bugger boys from the mountain side..

  16. fred Says:

    There’s nothing like having one’s education insulted by someone using incorrect grammar.

    As for Tyler’s attempt at homosexual humor, for the sake of argument let’s say that I am. So what?

  17. tyler Says:

    Well if that’s the case, hello there Freddie.

  18. tyler Says:


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