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Some Winnipeg mayoral contestants are condemning candidate Don Woodstock for standing up at a forum on women’s issues and stating Indigenous men are the cause of violence against Indigenous women.
Woodstock, a security-company owner who is making his second run for mayor, told an audience of about 60 mayoral-campaign workers and ordinary citizens on Thursday evening he believes “Aboriginal men” are the reason violence is committed against Indigenous women.
Woodstock made the comments Thursday evening at a forum organized by the Council of Winnipeg Women and held at the John Osborn unit of the Army Navy Air Force Veterans, in Polo Park.
All of the candidates were provided the same questions, in advance, about how they would improve public safety, Winnipeg Transit and housing for women in this city.
When it was Woodstock’s turn to address safety, he said “Aboriginal” men don’t respect Indigenous women, and that is why there is violence against Indigenous women.
After the forum, he repeated his comments.
WATCH | Don Woodstock accuses Indigenous men:
“In my view, in what I’ve seen and what I hear, Indigenous men and youths need to come to the table to solve this problem of missing and murdered Indigenous women. This is the link,” Woodstock said.
“In most cases, if you talk to them and listen to them and listen how they view and value women, it’s not the same as how I view and value women.”
Woodstock went on to say Indigenous men have too many sexual and romantic partners.
“Why do some youngsters see themselves as the only thing that is good for them is to have multiple wives, multiple sweethearts, multiple mothers, multiple families?” he asked, adding he does not believe his opinion is controversial. “I’m giving you my view of 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 out when Woodstock made his comments.
‘Disgraceful, disrespectful, completely inaccurate’
“I don’t think I needed to sit here and listen to him spew that absolute disgraceful, disrespectful, completely inaccurate, factually incorrect, perpetuating-more-violence-against-women comment,” she said, adding Woodstock should have been asked to leave the forum.
“When you victimize some of the most vulnerable people in the city, you should go. This isn’t the place for you.”
Forum organizer Brenda Buleziuk said she was disappointed.
“It saddens me to hear people still talking like that, as if they’re still back in the dark ages,” she said.
Robert-Falcon Ouellette, the only Indigenous candidate at the forum, arrived too late to hear Woodstock’s comment.
“A true Indigenous male who respects what it means to be Indigenous and follows the Indigenous philosophy and the warrior way of life has a lot of respect for the whole family,” he said.
The Thursday forum was attended by 10 out of 11 Winnipeg mayoral candidates: Idris Adelakun, Bokhari, Chris Clacio, Scott Gillingham, Loney, Motkaluk, Glen Murray, Ouellette, Shone and Woodstock.
Only Kevin Klein, the outgoing councillor 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 politicking. Motkaluk accused Murray, the city’s former mayor, and Gillingham, the outgoing St. James councillor, for failing to improve Winnipeg during their time in office.
Murray and Gillingham also relitigated a dispute from July, when the former mayor blamed the councillor for ushering out a program that aided refugees.
Two candidates also heaped scorn on Winnipeg Transit. Motkaluk said buses in the city are so unsafe, she would not allow her teenage daughter to take the bus.
Shone said his wife, a police officer, was assaulted while she was waiting for the bus.
There are at least 10 more debates scheduled before election day on Oct. 26.