With the Teddy the dog animal abuse trial set to continue this Friday, March 15, in Duncan tensions appear to be increasing between aboriginal and non-aboriginal citizens to the point that the chief of Cowichan Tribes has sounded the alarm.
“Recent suspicious acts of violence and reports of intimidation on Cowichan reserve lands have Chief and Council concerned for the welfare of community members living on Reserve. This backlash against community is clearly stemming from the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of a dog (known as Teddy),” Chief William (Chip) Seymour said via a press release issued on Tuesday.
The release noted that while the matter is currently before the courts and has generated a lot of publicity in recent weeks, some are attaching blame to the First Nations community in general and the chief is “not only concerned for the safety of his community members but also concerned these acts could drive a wedge between the local indigenous and non-indigenous communities.”
Seymour felt it important to speak up before things got worse.
“I would hope we can ratchet down the tension and allow the justice system to do its job,” he said.
A recent fire led some to speculate it was intentionally set, though North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Insp. Chris Bear said on March 5 that “at this time, we believe this fire to be an isolated event and not linked to any other occurrence.”
Other reports of racial intolerance have also been reported on Facebook, though the Citizen has been unable to confirm them.
On a comment on the Citizen’s web page Amanda Marchand wondered why nobody has mentioned “the hundreds of hate filled and racist comments on social media, the gun shots into a home, rocks thrown and the many acts of intimidation that followed,” the start of the Teddy trial. “There is a process to address what happened to the dog, but where is the accountability (and media) to address the deeply disturbing and shocking racist abuse and violent acts perpetrated against Cowichan Tribes members?”
North Cowichan mayor Al Siebring posted the press release on his Facebook page and that of the municipality.
“Racism and intolerance have no place in our community, and it’s truly lamentable that a press release such as this would have to be issued,” he said. “Your mayor and council fully endorse Chief Seymour’s call to ‘ratchet down the tension and allow the justice system to do its job’.”
Those with information about any incidents related to this issue are encouraged to contact the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP at 250-748-5522 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
The trial of Anderson Joe, who is up on charges of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal and failing to provide the necessities of life for an animal in the same case, has already been held for two days. A third day is required.
If convicted, Joe could face a maximum penalty of up to 18 months in prison, a $10,000 fine and up to a lifetime ban on owning animals.
Melissa Tooshley has already pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to provide the necessities of life for an animal.