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Schreiner denounces sign vandalism, applauds Brooks's courage

'It takes the courage of survivors like Krystal to inspire all of us to act, and then match that courage with our voices and our solidarity to stand together,' says Green leader

Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner travelled to Orillia today to condemn the vandalism of Simcoe North Green candidate Krystal Brooks’s signs earlier this week.

Brooks, an Indigenous woman, removed her campaign sign from her front lawn because of hateful messages someone had written on it.

“On one side, it said, ‘Go back to the reserve, b****.’ On the other side, it said, ‘Suck another one, w****,’ with a crude drawing on it,” Brooks said in a statement earlier this week.

In his address at Couchiching Beach Park Wednesday morning, Schreiner denounced the racist vandalism and expressed appreciation for having her as a candidate.

“I’m so proud to have her as an Ontario Green candidate, and I want to unequivocally denounce the hateful, anti-Indigenous and misogynist hate that was directed to her personally, and that deeply affects so many people across this province,” Schreiner said.

“We need more MPPs at Queen’s Park with Krystal’s lived experience and with her strong, unquivering voice.

“It takes the courage of survivors like Krystal to inspire all of us to act, and then match that courage with our voices and our solidarity to stand together.”

While Schreiner said it’s important to speak out and show solidarity, he stressed action is needed at the government level to address hate and racism.

He said the Ontario Greens support reinstating and increasing funding for the anti-hate directorate, reinstating the Indigenous Scholars Program, the expansion of rape crisis centres, and affordable housing.

“I want to be clear that it is vitally important that we turn words into actions — legislative actions,” he said. “I admire the fact that you’re not going to let this hateful act deter you from standing up and speaking out for the Ontario that you want, an Ontario where we dismantle and combat systemic racism, an Ontario where we stand up and say that we’re going to confront our colonial past.”

While the defacement of her campaign signs hurt, Brooks said, she has decided to continue her campaign due to an outpouring of support since the incident, and to show others they can break through barriers.

“My hope is that somebody watching this knows that just because somebody writes words on a sign, you don’t have to give up — and I wanted to. I really did,” she said.

“The reason I didn’t was because of the hundreds of messages that I got yesterday and today, hundreds of messages of support and love and encouragement because of one act of hate.”

Brooks said one of the messages she received was from a young Indigenous woman who also has ambitions to work in politics and was discouraged by the vandalizing of Brooks’s sign.

“She was feeling very, very discouraged, and she was doubting herself and why she wanted to go into politics and if that was a good choice for her. I was able to show her hundreds of screenshots of these messages, and I was able to say to her that you can keep going,” she said.

“I said to her that I am happy to take these hits, and I’m happy to keep taking them, because the more hits I take, the less hits she has to take when she decides that this is the route that she wants to go.”

Brooks, who identifies as a survivor of child welfare, human trafficking, and mental health and addictions issues, also stressed more Indigenous voices are needed at Queen’s Park and she applauded Schreiner for giving her a platform to share her experiences on her own terms.

“What (Schreiner has) done today is he has shown Ontario what Indigenous allyship looks like. What he’s done is he has used his platform to boost mine so that I can speak on my behalf and on behalf of Indigenous people, and that is what needs to continue to happen, especially in Queen’s Park,” she said.

“We need Indigenous representation, and he just allowed me to speak for myself. He stepped aside to let an Indigenous woman speak for herself.”

Brooks says a lot of work still has to be done for Indigenous people entering politics.

“I am the first person from Rama First Nation to ever have my name on a ballot, federally or provincially, and there’s a reason for that. We’re talking about that reason today and the racism that does occur,” she told OrilliaMatters.

“It’s really important when we’re talking about Indigenous people entering politics. There are reasons why we’re so underrepresented here, and just in society in general, but in politics specifically.”