Mayor apologizes for sharing posts about housing schools – but says he is “annoyed” First Nation published the issue

The mayor of Williams Lake, BC, has said he is sorry to share an online post claiming there was a “different side” of schools, but in an interview Wednesday, he expressed annoyance with the local First Nation to make the issue public.

Mayor Walt Cobb first apologized during a council meeting Tuesday, a few days after the head of Williams Lake First Nation called for his resignation. He said he redirected the post to his private Facebook page.

“I had never anticipated or intended to offend or make light of schools – and for those I offended, I apologize, and I’m seriously sorry, very, very, sorry,” Cobb said.

In an interview with CBC on Wednesday, the mayor reiterated his apology, but said he was “annoyed” at the nation for taking the issue to the city and the media instead of taking it up with him personally as it was on his private side.

“This article was on my private page – [on] as I post jokes, I post many things – but it’s not on my ‘Mayor Walt Cobb’ page. So there is a difference … but as it was pointed out last night by one of the council members, I do not have a private life. So that’s what it’s I apologized for and I’m seriously sorry, “Cobb told CBC’s Dawn Kamloops.

“What really annoyed me the most was that we had an agreement with Williams Lake First Nation … that if we disagreed on anything, we would not do it in the media. I just found out it was a bit … “he added, sliding after.

“We could probably have solved a lot of problems, solved a lot of heartache if the decision had not been made to go to the press before we even contacted me.

“At least that’s what it is … hopefully we can move on.”

Chief Willie Sellars spoke further Dawn Kamloops immediately after Cobb’s interview ended, saying the mayor’s comments were not a surprise.

“He is expected to take the position he did,” Sellars said.

“We felt it was a very backhanded apology last night. It lacked substance and sincerity, and again we hear it in his interview this morning where we blame Williams Lake First Nation for having put him in this unpleasant situation. It is very unfortunate to hear. “

Cobb said Wednesday he will not step down and still plans to run for re-election next year.

Williams Lake First Nation chief Willie Sellars said Cobb should resign after sharing a post claiming there was a positive side to the schools. (Laureen Carruthers)

The post he shared claimed that there were positive aspects to schools, but that young indigenous peoples “just want to be victims” seeking money, and that most survivors had “forgiven”. It claimed to have been written by someone with original family members.

Cobb said Wednesday that he shared the post after it was forwarded by several contacts because “he felt there was a need for people to know what was being said out there.”

The Facebook post has since been deleted.

Councilor apologized for similar comments

It is estimated that 150,000 native children were forced to go to school over the course of a century until the final location closed in 1996. The 2015 final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada depicted native abuse of federally funded, church-run children. institutions.

In August, First Nations in the Williams Lake area began a ground-penetrating radar search for unmarked graves at the site of the local residential school, St. Louis. Joseph’s Mission, which closed in 1981. The search is underway, and Sellars said a statement d. The results are possible in the coming months.

Sellars, whose father was forced to go to St. Joseph’s Mission, said he wanted the mayoral position made available to someone “more open-minded about the reconciliation process.”

Cobb is not the first person on the Williams Lake council to make comments claiming “another side” of housing schools. grev. Marnie Brenner said “there are always two sides” during a discussion on institutions in June 2020.

Like the mayor, she later apologized.

On Tuesday, councilors Scott Nelson, Sheila Boehm, Jason Ryll, Ivan Bonnell and Craig Smith spoke out to condemn Cobb’s actions. Ryll suggested Cobb reconsider his decision to run again.

Sellars praised these councilors but said the collaboration will be difficult.

“It’s encouraging to see. It gives me hope that we can work with this council. But until they start holding each other accountable in that office, it will be a challenge to continue working together.”

Later in the meeting on Tuesday, the council adopted two proposals that officially condemn the history of primary and lower secondary schools and undertake to be guided in the future by the results of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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