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Mayor of South Bruce Peninsula to resign 'effective immediately' after 'racist' comments caught on tape

Following calls from Indigenous groups to resign after "racist" comments were caught on tape, the mayor of South Bruce Peninsula is stepping down.

According to a statement issued Tuesday by the Town of South Bruce Peninsula, Mayor Garry Michi has resigned “effective immediately.”

Controversy first arose when Michi was caught on tape questioning the fiscal sense to build a water treatment plant for the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation along the Bruce Peninsula, who have been under a boil water advisory since January 2019.

“What I’m saying is where’s all this going to end. 20 or 25 years ago, they put a water treatment plant up at Cape Croker. It got ruined because they didn’t maintain it, now we’ve spent $65 million up there to put hydrants and a new water treatment plant, and 75 per cent of the those houses, I mean, they should be torn down,” Michi said in the recording.

Following the release of the audio tape recording, which was posted to SoundCloud by user SaubleSam, Indigenous leaders called for Michi’s immediate resignation.

The Saugeen First Nation, who share a border with the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, called the audio recording “reprehensible,” “denigrating,” and “racist.”

Work is currently underway on the Chippewas of Nawash new water treatment plant and related infrastructure. 750 people in 264 homes had been under a boil water advisory for the past three years.

“It’s like, why are spending $65 million on a water treatment plant up there that’s going to last 20 years because they’re not going to look after it, right? Just look at their homes. I can understand to be poor, but you can be poor and clean,” Michi said in his 43 second-long recording.

In the statement, the Town of South Bruce Peninsula said they wanted to “offer their sincere apologies to the people Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and to all First Nations communities.”

“The people from local First Nations communities are our neighbours and they are our friends,” the statement reads. “The Town wants to reiterate that it does not support or agree with any of Mr. Michi’s comments posted in an audio clip on [Aug.] 25, 2023.”

A special meeting of council that was scheduled for Aug. 30 at 2 p.m. has been cancelled, and council will be meeting in the near future to determine next steps.

“We fully understand and sympathize that First Nations communities across Canada struggle with access to clean drinking water which is a basic human necessity. The Town supports all Federal efforts to fund capital projects that makes safe drinking water available to all First Nations people across Canada,” the release reads. 

— With files from CTV News London's Scott Miller Top Stories

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