P.E.I. politicians urge Islanders to fight racism after 2 men hurt at festival event

·2 min read
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said in a statement Wednesday that 'everyone in this province has the right to celebrate who they are and who they desire to be.' (CBC - image credit)
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said in a statement Wednesday that 'everyone in this province has the right to celebrate who they are and who they desire to be.' (CBC - image credit)

Political leaders on P.E.I. are calling on all Island residents to condemn acts of racism and violence after an incident early Saturday morning in Abram-Village left two people needing medical care.

"The news of the events that transpired in the Évangéline region this past weekend [is] deeply troubling and concerning," Premier Dennis King said in a statement.

"This is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in our province."

RCMP say five people were involved in "an altercation" after a dance held as part of the four-day Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival. The two people sent to hospital are from other countries; they now live in the Évangéline region.

King's statement said the incident tarnished a weekend intended to celebrate the Island's diversity and the vibrancy of the Acadian and francophone community.

"No matter how you identify, who you love, who you worship, what colour your skin is, where you are born, or what language you speak — everyone in this province has the right to celebrate who they are and who they desire to be. I'm calling on all Islanders to condemn any acts of violence and hate and speak out when these acts occur."

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

No charges have been laid, but RCMP are asking anyone with information about what happened to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or RCMP in Summerside at 902-436-9300.

Liberal MLA Sonny Gallant, who represents the Évangéline area in the provincial legislature, posted on social media that the region is both beautiful and welcoming, "thanks to the kind-hearted and hard-working individuals who call this community home."

His statement continued: "The violent incident that took place during the annual exhibition and Acadian Festival is disturbing and has left many residents shaken, due to such incidents being out of character for the area."

'Shocking reminder'

Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker tweeted that the incident is a "shocking reminder that we have a racism problem on P.E.I. and that is absolutely unacceptable. Racism is a learned behaviour and we must do everything we can to call it out and tackle this issue head on."

The leaders all said their thoughts are with the two victims and the families affected by the incident, and encouraged people to report any relevant information to police.