Canada
Threats on Idle No More organizer being treated as hate crime

Lyle Sayers, chief of Garden River First Nation, laughs as he speaks with attendees marking the 162nd anniversary of the signing of the Robinson Huron Treaty on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012 on Whitefish Island in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Credits: BRIAN KELLY/THE SAULT STAR/QMI AGENCY

BRIAN KELLY | QMI AGENCY

SAULT STE. MARIE – Police are treating threats made against a Garden River woman as a potential hate crime.

Lesley Belleau, an Idle No More organizer who lives in Peterborough, Ont., was told in a recent letter, “You are a dead piece of s---. A good Indian is a dead Indian. Stay away from the Sault.”

Newspaper clippings detailing Belleau's involvement in Idle No More were also enclosed in the package.
“Similar” tearsheets were sent to the Indian Friendship Centre in Sault Ste. Marie and the leader of Garden River First Nation.

Chief Lyle Sayers has received two threatening letters in the past month.

“Lesley Belleau is not the only person that received this type of mail,” said Sgt. Karen Bell, detachment commander of Anishinabek Police Service in Garden River.

“The Anishinabek police are treating this matter very seriously,” she said.

She couldn't confirm if police believe the same person sent all the letters in the last two weeks. Eagle Feather Aviation on Rankin Reserve has also received a similar package.

Sayers gave the letters he received to the aboriginal police force. He's not concerned about his well-being, but is worried about Belleau's safety after a First Nations woman was sexually assaulted and beaten in Thunder Bay in late December.

“Yes, there is concern,” said Sayers of the correspondence targeting him.

The veteran leader, chief of his community for 16 years, says Canada's First Nations must continue to explain their concerns driving Idle No More to non-aboriginals.

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