Regina citizens file complaint against Coun. Terina Shaw over comments about Indigenous people

·5 min read
Forty-seven citizens have signed a letter and have sent it to the integrity commissioner for the City of Regina. They want Ward 7 Coun. Terina Shaw to resign.  (City of Regina/YouTube - image credit)
Forty-seven citizens have signed a letter and have sent it to the integrity commissioner for the City of Regina. They want Ward 7 Coun. Terina Shaw to resign. (City of Regina/YouTube - image credit)

A group of citizens from across Regina want a city councillor ousted.

Forty-seven residents have signed a letter sent to the integrity commissioner for the City of Regina, asking for an investiation into the conduct of Ward 7 Coun. Terina Shaw.

Residents Florence Stratton and Susana Deranger co-wrote the letter, which alleges comments made by Shaw in council were racist, promote stereotypes and violate the City of Regina's code of ethics bylaw.

The letter referenced a Jan. 26 meeting of city council's executive committee, and says Shaw made comments at that meeting implying that Indigenous men are sexual predators.

"I've worked with Indigenous men. They've lived in my house. I've done it for years," it quotes Shaw as saying.

"You talked about how they wouldn't have sexual charges up against them. How can you show to the school board that this person doesn't have sexual charges?"

Stratton attended that meeting via Zoom.

"I was totally appalled. I frantically took notes, luckily. It seems unbelievable that a public authority would say those kinds of things," she said.

Then, at a June 15 city council meeting, Shaw made comments about Indigenous peoples choosing to be homeless. Stratton attended that meeting in person.

Deranger said she's triggered, angered and appalled by Shaw's comments.

"I'm used to racism, let's put it that way, and I'm used to garbage. But then a city councillor would do this publicly and then further say that she refused to apologize — just, there's no words to describe how terrible I felt," Deranger said.

Stratton and Deranger ultimately want Shaw to either be removed from council or resign.

They point to two portions of the ethics bylaw they believe Shaw has violated. The first is that "members shall treat every person, including other members, municipal employees and the public, with dignity, understanding and respect."

The second is that "members shall not engage in discrimination, bullying, harassment or use derogatory language toward others in their roles as members of council."

"This woman has been spewing hatred for a long time," Deranger said. "The things that we have focused on are just, I mean, they're way, way, way over the top."

CBC News reached out to Shaw multiple times for a comment, but did not receive a response.

2nd formal complaint planned

Erica Beaudin, the executive director for Regina Treaty/Status Indian Services, said Tuesday that she will also be making a formal complaint to the integrity commissioner.

Beaudin said Shaw's original comments about Indigenous homelessness came from a conversation with her — a conversation that she said Shaw misinterpreted.

In a statement, she said on June 23, when "the story broke about the racist and incorrect remarks that Coun. Shaw stated that I made, I extended an olive branch" to the councillor.

Beaudin said she offered to meet privately with Shaw so they could "work through the incorrect remarks" before other organizations, including Regina Treaty/Status Indian Services and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, responded publicly.

"[Shaw] chose to lawyer up and further control the parameters of our meeting by sending a list of dates which demonstrated her continued lack of priority for us to work together," Beaudin said.

Beaudin said her complaint to the integrity commissioner will include the comments Shaw made on June 15, as well as other racialized comments Shaw made about Indigenous people in Beaudin's presence.

Council can't remove members: clerk

Regina's interim city clerk, Amber Ackerman, said the city received the first complaint on July 15 and turned it over to the integrity commissioner for review.

But Ackerman said it is possible that if that review finds the complaint is "deemed frivolous or is not made in good faith, or that there are no good grounds or insufficient grounds for an investigation, no investigation will occur."

If the review finds there were appropriate grounds for the complaint, the commissioner can then offer suggestions to the councillor in question, among other things.

Sanctions could include a reprimand, or having the councillor issue an apology or take further educational training, Ackerman said.

The councillor could also be removed from council committees or dismissed as a chair of a committee.

However, under current legislation, city council does not have the authority to remove a council member from office.

No apology

When Shaw was criticized for her comments on Indigenous homelessness last month, she said she was simply asking a question. She said she didn't mean harm by her comments and felt no apology was necessary.

Mayor Sandra Masters apologized for Shaw's comments on June 30. But the 47 signatories to Stratton and Deranger's letter said that isn't enough.

Moreen Mugerwa/CBC
Moreen Mugerwa/CBC

"I'm not sure an apology [from Shaw] is sufficient," Stratton said.

"I appreciate that the mayor apologized, but Terina has not apologized. It's all got to be a learning experience for all of us. If her apology was sincere, yes, it would be progress. But if she doesn't feel she needs to apologize, then she doesn't understand you."

She said the 47 signatories are a mix of all types of people.

"They're a mix of settlers and Indigenous people. Some have taught or are teaching at the university. Others have different kinds of jobs. Some are retired, like myself."

Now that the integrity commissioner has received the complaint, Stratton and Deranger said they will follow the procedures to the end.

"This is a white supremacist society," Stratton said. "And those of us who are white need to understand that and struggle against our own racism that we've internalized."

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