Innu chief not accepting Simms’ apology

Andrew Robinson
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Tshakapesh accuses radio host of promoting hatred

The fallout from a controversial exchange between VOCM Open Line host Randy Simms and an Innu band chief earlier this week continues to draw attention, as Simeon Tshakapesh says he’s not willing to let the matter go away.

“I’m going to make a big deal of this, because it’s totally unacceptable, and I’m not taking his apology,” said the Natuashish Innu band chief, who contacted The Telegram Thursday morning.

Simms apologized on air Wednesday morning, a day after he opened a conversation with Tshakapesh on his program by calling the Innu leader “stupid” for not accepting the provincial government’s five-year ban on hunting the George River caribou herd.

The ban was announced Monday in response to a rapid decline in the herd’s population, which had numbered in the hundreds of thousands, but is now less than 20,000.

Simms also called Innu Nation Grand Chief Prote Poker “stupid.” After Tshakapesh accused Simms of being racist, the radio host hung up on him and called the Innu leader an “arsehole.”


On Tuesday, Simms told The Telegram that while it is fair to refer to statements or ideas as stupid, calling a person stupid is not an appropriate way to behave.

Speaking Thursday, Tshakapesh’s disappointment with Simms remained apparent.

“One of the comments that I was really blown away (by), when he said the Innu people from Labrador ... should take the guns away from Quebec Innu from Quebec and kick their asses to Quebec.

“He’s promoting war, hatred. He’s trying to start a war between the Innu people in Quebec and in Labrador.”

Tshakapesh said he has spoken with both aboriginals and non-aboriginals who were deeply offended by Simms’ comments.

“I mean, how often do you hear Randy Simms calling ministers and non-aboriginal people ‘stupid,’ ‘arseholes,’ ‘idiots,’ ‘you guys,’ that kind of stuff,” he asked rhetorically.

The Innu chief also clarified that he did not call the program himself to speak with Simms on Tuesday — a producer from the program contacted him.

“I did not call Randy Simms on his Open Line. They’re the ones that called me.”

On Tuesday, Tshakapesh said he would consult his lawyers about the matter. Two days later, he said he intends to “seek justice.”

Asked to respond to Tshakapesh’s most recent remarks, Simms declined to comment when reach Thursday afternoon.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Geographic location: Quebec, Labrador, George River

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Recent comments

  • Jacqueline
    March 07, 2013 - 11:50

    It is so annoying having to read all the racist uneducated comments regarding the Innu People and Aboriginal people in general. First of all development such as Voisey's Bay and Muskrat Falls is taking place on Innu Land, so the Innu by rights should be the wealthiest people in this province. But development of the land in the past has taken place without the consent of the Innu, such as the flooding of Churchill Falls, which is traditional Innu land where many Innu were buried and consequently when the graves were flooded out with the development. The Innu are a strong people because they have survived such a drastic attack by the Church and government on the culture. Sadistic priests were sent to transform and destroy the Innu culture and many Innu were abused, sexually, physically, emotionally and spiritually. But they have survived this assault and still continue to practice the culture and speak the language. The Innu similar to other Aboriginal Nations, take care of the land and have a deep respect for the environment. Hunting caribou is deeply embedded in the culture. The Innu are not stupid, they know how to preserve the species. They never kill the females or young calfs, only the males. It is time the the government to stop trying to control the Innu and treat the Innu like children who don't know how to take care of themselves. In fact Aboriginal hunting rights are part of the Land claims and in the very laws that allow the Canadian government to occupy this land. You ignorant people need to study the real history of Aboriginal people, not the garbage and lies you learned in school.

  • Undisclosed
    February 07, 2013 - 11:17

    Grow up, I am sick of this apology BS. He said you are an idiot, so be it. Take a look at what you are doing…. You are an idiot. MOVE ON!

  • Pete
    February 02, 2013 - 10:29

    The Innu people have been "compensated" many times over for being "wronged" by the Canadian people. They now lead the liberal government around by the nose........ which has now turned them into a generational welfare society. Everything they have is given to them by the government, yet they say they want to live in their traditional ways,,,,,,, I guess their ancestors slaughtered herds of animals by chasing them down on government supplied snow mobiles and slaughtering them with high powered rifles. When is the government get a spine an start enforcing the laws........if not that, stop the freebies to the Innu and let them live off the land in their traditional ways, by walking and hunting with spears..

  • Paul
    February 01, 2013 - 13:51

    lets be clear here...the Innu have the right to their Point of View, which has an awful lot in common with the POV of Newfoundlanders who were so angry when the Federal government closed the fishery and told them they can't fish any more, and who don't trust the government and who believe they knew better than the governmetn and that there are lots of fish out there...issues so similar to the cod moratorium. Can the herd sustain a limited hunt? I don't know but that is only one of the issues here, the other is a lack of tolerance and unwillingnes to see the POV of Innu.

  • Sean
    February 01, 2013 - 11:48

    Some comments mention"Aboriginal" - Leave the Inuit out of it. We are supporting the ban. This is between Newfoundland and Labrador and Innu. Know the difference.

  • Here we go again
    February 01, 2013 - 11:27

    Mr. Tshakapesh, if I was your legal counsel, I would strongly suggest that you drop the whole lawsuit issue. If I was Mr. Simms, I would counter sue you in a heartbeat and I would win hands down. The fact is that Randy's reputation has been harmed by you calling him a raciest and a member of the KKK. Your reputation has been left in tact. So my friend, you better think long and hard before you go down this legal route. If it was me? I'd sue you out of existence financially. And oh yes, if you were representing the Innu nation, I would also include them in the lawsuit.

  • Jack
    February 01, 2013 - 11:12

    If Chief Tshakapesh takes Randy Simms to court, he will likely lose as Simms could easily use the "fair comment" defence due to considerable evidence proving that George River Caribou herd is on the brink to extinction.

    • paul
      February 01, 2013 - 16:01

      it was not 'fair comment' to yell at him and call him stupid...

    • Richard
      February 02, 2013 - 18:07

      Uei-kuei mak even if herds have decreased Sims should never make derogatory comments and informed his audience on the reasos for the decline of the caribou herds and legally if the chief Tshakapesh the suit he would win his cause with the commentataires of SIMS and Sims should learn the innu nation of Québec and labrador and I hope that it does not operate a pirate radio station .Iamé from innu Québec but my mother is born in labrador the big land.

    • Nick
      February 03, 2013 - 18:22

      was not 'fair comment' to yell at him and call him stupid... --------------------------------------------- Didn't know it was against the law to yell and as for the stupid comment. What would you call a guy who's willing to hunt a species his community depends on to extinction?

  • Sherry Hicks
    February 01, 2013 - 10:43

    Although i do not live in Newfoundland anymore ,i always listened to Randy's show and miss his straight up conversations. If the fisherman have to abide by the governments findings on the cod population by putting a ban on the amount we can fish to conserve and replenish them. Why does Chief Tshakapesh and Mushuau Innu First Nation insist on hunting the Caribou and breaking the law set out to protect the species until it is replenished . Now thats what i call stupid,only because they will hunt themselves right out of the meat they want for their family's I do hope the government steps in if the Mushuau Innu First Nation does hunt the caribou and make the fines stiff .

  • W McLean
    February 01, 2013 - 10:40

    So far there are at least two commenters here, tipping their hands as to their own ignorance of Labrador native people and native issues by confusing Innu and Inuit. I wonder if these same people get torn up when someone confuses St. John's and Saint John?

  • B
    February 01, 2013 - 10:36

    I am sure the issue may need to be discussed further and I do not agree with the opinions but the way Mr. Simms spoke to the gentleman( Band Chief Tshakapesh)was totally unacceptable. Mr Simms only showed how ignorant he is. Putting the issue aside nobody needs to be treated that way. Mr. Simms is not God because he is hosting a talk show and he had no right to hang up on the gentleman. Mr. Simms does not have any respect for anyone. Mr. Simms with his outburst and it is not his first one does not belong on the Open Line where everyone has an opinion. As per "It takes the bigger man to make the apology" you are wrong. Mr Simms knew he over stepped the boundaries and was afraid he would lose his job. All Mr Simms could do was name call rather then discuss the issue in a mature educated manor.

  • B
    February 01, 2013 - 10:34

    I am sure the issue may need to be discussed further and I do not agree with the opinions but the way Mr. Simms spoke to the gentleman( Band Chief Tshakapesh)was totally unacceptable. Mr Simms only showed how ignorant he is. Putting the issue aside nobody needs to be treated that way. Mr. Simms is not God because he is hosting a talk show and he had no right to hang up on the gentleman. Mr. Simms does not have any respect for anyone. Mr. Simms with his outburst and it is not his first one does not belong on the Open Line where everyone has an opinion. As per "It takes the bigger man to make the apology" you are wrong. Mr Simms knew he over stepped the boundaries and was afraid he would lose his job. All Mr Simms could do was name call rather then discuss the issue in a mature educated manor.

  • Hand Outs
    February 01, 2013 - 10:27

    Dear Mr. Chief, If you shoot the last of a herd of Caribou because Great Grandaddy did 100 years ago on his dog sled with a musket then sir you are Stupid and an Ars________. Randy was right in my opinion....and I have a right to it as you spend and squander my tax dollars. Oh yea you will be on a tax free snowmobile with a high powered rifle and coleman cook stove and thinsulate survival suits and................................... then go home to a tax payer built home on a reservation.

  • Bob Hannaford
    February 01, 2013 - 10:26

    According to this article VOCM called Chief Tshakapesh, not the other way around. When he came on the line he was met with the comment, "you're stupid!" How would any of us react when called by a radio station to talk to a host only to have the host begin by calling you stupid? While Mr. Simms was not, in my opinion, racist in his comments, his words served as a spark for the rest of the short conversation. Even worse, they have sparked a whole range of racist comments through on-line comments by various persons. This, I believe, is the real damage done by the radio show comments. How many times over the past 20 years have we heard many of our citizens complain that the fisheries scientists don't know what they are talking about and that there are plenty of fish for us to have a "food fishery". Let's hear, at least, the rationale for the Innu saying they can have a "food hunt" of caribou - even if we disagree.

    • paul
      February 01, 2013 - 16:58

      Bob, you nailed it! Randy created the spark, and people are not giving the Innu any credit in their POV, which is pretty much the same as the situation of the cod moratorium and food fishery...switch caribou for cod and its the same story...

  • Tax payer
    February 01, 2013 - 10:21

    Although I do not always agree with Randy Simms, I do agree with his comments to Simeon Tshakapesh, he is everything that Randy called him, who in their right mind would knowing go and completely wipe out a herd of of animals, especially when they are in danger of not surviving with a complete ban on hunting. However this might very well be Simeon Tshakapesh & co plan, to completely wipe out the Caribou heard. This would then allow them to go to the Government for more tax payer money, they will then be crying because of starvation. I am surprised they are not asking the Government to ship more fire wood to Labrador again, we do have a Coast Guard vessel free for transportation of fire wood, should they be cold during hunting. Randy you really did hit the nail on the head. It's unfortunate that we do not have more people being outspoken. Maybe it's about time for the hard working tax payer of Canada to start the "Idle No More" enough is enough.

  • saelcove
    February 01, 2013 - 10:17

    It,s about time these people entered the real world the free ride should come to an end

  • Coco
    February 01, 2013 - 10:03

    Aboriginal title is only a communal right with regards to land whereas all other citizens have private rights. Lands where Indians live can only be transferred to the Crown by law. In other words, the Crown made it law to be the trustees which made Indians wards of the state. The law took away the Indians right to own land individually as we do. Indians are the poorest people in Canada but we either blame them for it or complain that they have too much. There can’t be any solution until there’s cooperation and there can’t be any cooperation without mutual respect. So long as people allow themselves to be blinded by racism there will be no resolution. Cooperation, mutual respect, basic human dignity and money are not all mutually exclusive. However, it’s very difficult if not impossible to value all those things at the same time if/when a position of public influence becomes occupied by someone who was born with a weak or defective social conscience.

  • Jean
    February 01, 2013 - 09:52

    WOW...Talk about milking it for all it's worth!! Going to see a lawyer and looking for justice...who pays for this lawyer, Taxpayers?? I am the furthest thing from a racist, but I hate it when anyone plays the race card to their advantage...When it comes to characteristics like, "stupid"....if it walks like a duck, and talks like a get it...

  • starr
    February 01, 2013 - 09:39

    Randy Simms was provoked and while he may have misbehaved, he was no worse than his opponent. I, for one, am sick and tired of everyone having to walk on eggshells around the Innu. Its time they stopped living off our tax dollars and contributed - but they never will and now to have to listen to this so-called chief throwing is temper tantrum and kicking and screaming is intolerable. He is a very poor role model to young and old alike and should be stripped of any leadership position as he does not deserve it and we should not have to endure this behavior from him.

  • Villergirl
    February 01, 2013 - 09:38

    AM.. of all the ignorant comments on here I just have to comment on yours..I pay taxes every year.. Both my Husband and I are working people, and of mic mac decent.. we don't get any tax breaks.. You and Randy Simms belong in the same Dirt Pile, Ingornant Bigot Pile!

    • StartingPoint
      February 06, 2013 - 13:10

      Pot meet kettle? Calling someone ignorant when in fact you claim to be of Mi'kmaq descent and are unable to use the proper spelling of the name. Hypocrisy at its best.

  • Patsy
    February 01, 2013 - 09:37

    Well, well, well... Not a bit surprised this crybaby won't accept an apology. In fact' I doubt this guy knows what an apology means. Typical behavior, similar to that of a young child trying to get their own way. Throw a temper tantrum and keeping crying about it! Grow up Simeon.

  • T
    February 01, 2013 - 09:22

    Ok Mr. Chief, It's time for you to grow up and be a man and accept Mr. Simms apology. Is it because the truth hurts so much that you are bitter now that Mr. Simms said in the public airwaves exactly like the high majority of us feel? I 100% agree with Mr. Simms and am glad that somebody finally had the nerve to tell it like it is.

  • am
    February 01, 2013 - 08:48

    Even before I heard Mr. Simms apology, I totally agreed with him. If you really listen to the 2 conversations in question, Mr. Simms did not really get angry until he was called a "racist". Although not a racist myself either, I am getting sick and tired of hearing how unfairly the Inuit have been treated... Sometimes I am actually jealous that I was not born Inuit, as I would not have had to incur 60,000 in student loans, and I would be able to keep all of my tax money to myself without having to "contribute" to society!

    • b
      February 01, 2013 - 09:51

      I think you mean Innu. They are different Aboriginal groups. The Inuit were not singled out in Mr. Simms little blow-up. As for you not being racist... I am not going to make a judgement...but you seem to speak with a lack of information that at least would make you a tad bit prejudice in the matters you discussed in your comment.

    • Ernie Ford
      February 01, 2013 - 10:28

      AM, it sounds like you are a university student since you mentioned student loans, and this really surprises me that you don't have your facts straight before you make a comment on this issue. I am of Inuit descent and I have to pay the same taxes that you do, so use your education to do more research before you start putting down people of Inuit descent.

    • Bre
      February 01, 2013 - 12:29

      First correction; InuIT pay taxes. Second correction; We comtribute a great deal to society (no matter what background you come from) Third correction: Simeon Tshakapesh is speaking on behalf of the INNU people of Natuashish, NOT Inuit I think that if you are going to try to make some what of an "educated" spiel about Aboriginal groups in Labrador; First, be educated.

  • John
    February 01, 2013 - 08:42

    I'm not a fan of Randy Simms show, I can't stand to listen to his blowhard, "just telling it like it is" style, not to mention the legions of uneducated fools who call in day after day, but I fail to see anything racist about what he said in those conversations. If anything, Simms being called a member of the Ku Klux Klan is more racist, and certainly more immature and desperate than Simms saying arsehole. It was arrogant and unprofessional, absolutely, but what exactly is racist about calling someone stupid or an arsehole? Because Simeon is Innu? He didn't use any race related terms. I thought his apology was fair, he apologized for what he said and being unprofessional on air. It sounded to me like he over reacted to being called racist by a caller, and in turn, lashed out at him in a very childish way. If he'd said the exact same thing to someone who isn't Innu, this conversation wouldn't even exist. It goes without saying that Natives have been treated extremely poorly over the course of history, but that doesn't mean they should be treated like fragile children. How about treating them as equals? I doubt it will ever happen (see above comments). This story about Simms is entirely overblown and is bringing up a lot of baggage that seems to have nothing to do with that particular incident. What is disgusting to me is most of the people chiming in on this story, using Simms outburst as fuel for their own thinly veiled racism, look at most of the comments above, they're full of repressed rage for natives, everyone seems so happy that someone is finally "putting those natives in their place," that's the kind of attitude that breeds hostility on both sides.

  • John
    February 01, 2013 - 08:34

    Many of these treaties were made in the 1700's and earlier. At that time, almost all of the things we take for granted today such as electricity, cars, universal health, central heating, etc. It seems to me that the native population is picking and choosing what they feel is good for them. They should have to use all their treaties, not just pick and choose. If the native people want to hunt to preserve their culture, they should be required to use historic means of hunting, i.e. home-made bows and arrows or flint-lock muzzle rifles and travel by walking or snoeshoeing.

    • Kev
      February 01, 2013 - 10:36

      What treaties did the Innu sign in the 1700s? Anyway, same thing should apply to non-natives. Use your historic means of fishing, mining and forestry in native areas. Sailboats and dories, pick and shovel, axe and saw. And no hydro development either, that's not historic.

  • Brad
    February 01, 2013 - 08:09

    Funny how the chief crys racism on something around, but has no issue with throwing around "the white man" and other derogatory terms. Keep in mind he also called Randy a "Ku Klux Klan" member. What a hypocrite.

  • Don
    February 01, 2013 - 08:02

    He won't accept an apology but Simen will accept Simm's tax dollars. What a hypocrite.

    • Kev
      February 01, 2013 - 10:39

      Nflders don't mind taking Labrador resources and resource revenues. What hypocrites. Look in the mirror.

  • Karl
    February 01, 2013 - 08:01

    I don't believe randy was wrong when he used the word stupid!!! I totally agree with him and stand behind him. Would you plant the last seed or eat it? That's the question for compasistment

  • John Smith
    February 01, 2013 - 07:41

    Mr. Simms was right on the is stupid to continue hunting, when the herd is in danger.

  • My Opinion
    February 01, 2013 - 07:40

    Unfortunatley, in Randy's position, you don't get to take a moment when you get overwhelmed during a conversation. You don't get to take a moment to consider what you are about to say and arrange the wording so as not to offend. Although he may have approached the conversation in an inappropriate way, he was only saying what so many of his listeners were thinking. We heard frustration in his words, but there certianly was no promotion on hate or racisim. His appology was very well done, and now it's time for everyone to take a step back and go on about their daily buisness.

  • DownWithRandy
    February 01, 2013 - 07:34

    Though Randy's opinions may be sound, he's an ignorant, arrogant man and he should not have the PRIVILEGE of being the Open Line host any longer. Get this joker off the air! I agree with the Chief's thoughts that Randy's anger on-air could very well encourage the spread of hatred. When people disagree with others' view points, there should be mutual respect during discourse, not shouting and name calling.

  • Barney
    February 01, 2013 - 07:23

    And you don't call us "you guys"?

  • Robb
    February 01, 2013 - 07:21

    I heard what Simms said, and I think he is right....I mean what else can you call these people who would see a entire race of animal be decimated...??? is plain stupid. They cannot see past the ends of their noses, and would certainly do anything just to spite the govt of NL and Lab......And this aboriginal thing...hey, we are all people of the land.....we all descended from the caveman, so I guess we all own the land too.....!!!!....anyway, too stupid to even think about. Randy Simms took the high road and actually said he was sorry for the rant, but isn't the rant needed in cases like this. I say if they kill one animal, arrest them and take away all the modern devices that these "people of the land" use......some tradition hey.

  • Jack
    February 01, 2013 - 07:17

    In my opinion, because Randy Simms spoke the truth in using the term "stupid" for not seeing the optics of the George River Caribou decline, and Chief Tshakapesh and Mushuau Innu First Nation (Natuashish) don't realize the fact that this caribou herd are on the brink of extinction, Randy Simms shouldn't have apologized in the first place. Chief Tshakapesh, I know that the truth hurts, but the Mushuau Innu First Nation will suffer in the long run if there are no George River Caribou left. Besides, if you can't take criticism or suffer some "slings and arrows" like a true leader Chief Tshakapesh, then you shouldn't be a Chief in the first place.

  • darren
    February 01, 2013 - 07:14

    Simeon....why should your kids get free university education while I have to pay about $40,000 for my child? Why do you get a free house while I work to pay for mine?

    • C
      February 01, 2013 - 10:10

      Absolutely......100% right!!

  • Not buying it
    February 01, 2013 - 07:08

    While Randy Simms does say some stupid things, he doesn't have a monopoly on stupid statements. To equate Labrador Innu stopping Quebec hunters from slaughtering what remains of the herd does not equate to hatred or war. Aboriginal people in Labrador have been very active in protesting and blockading non-aboriginals developments under the banner of protecting resources in the past. Either what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, or, according to Tshakapesh's , there's a hate on and war against non-aboriginals. Which is it?

  • rex
    February 01, 2013 - 06:57

    Simeon Tshakapesh you should be apologize the people of the province, and the goverment for your total disreguard for the law and the band. Not sure why your people can think you can do whatever you want. Comments you made advising that you were not going to accept the ban, and hunt anyway, what kind of childish attitude is that. Respect the laws of the Province and the Country, they are there to protect all the people, every race,color,religion.

    February 01, 2013 - 06:43

    Although I agree with what Randy said, it was the way he presented it that I am not in agreement with. However; I would like to know how much longer we have to tread softly when it comes to the needs, wants, demands of the native people here in NL as well as across the country. I would hazzard to guess than more than 50% of you are only 1/64 native. Get over it folks, this has gone on much to long. We are all immigrants in some way, why do you think you are any different. Sinice 1492 you have held us hostage with the government having to abide by your whims and wishes.

  • original townie
    February 01, 2013 - 06:40

    It takes the bigger man to make the apology. We were always taught to accept one's apology as their acknowledgement of wrong doing. I guess Simeon has different values. Nothing more to be said Randy....

  • Tommy
    February 01, 2013 - 06:33

    Not accepting apology. Plays race card. Calls names himself. Talks about tribal warfare (or band war) with Quebec. Really shows what kind of a man he is. It is not even human the way he is acting.

    • Confused
      February 05, 2013 - 13:16

      As an Innu "Leader" its time he grow up....what's worse, being called stupid or being called a Racist? Simeon.....grow up, the fact that you went "there" says who the bigger man is can huff and puff if you want but you're in the wrong! Not agreeing with you doesn't makes Simms makes him smart, he could agree with you, but then you'd both be wrong!

  • Fred Penner
    February 01, 2013 - 06:30

    Simeon has every right to be miffed. He is correct in that it isn't every day that someone is called an "arsehole" or "stupid" on the radio. However, to say that Randy is promoting hatred and war reveals the effects of a hurt ego and is not an accurate assessment of events. In cases like this, turn-about is fair play.....I think that Randy and Simeon should agree on a time and have another "chat" on the airwaves. At this time Simeon can call Randy an "arsehole" and "stupid"....of course, they could also use the time for a meaningful discussion.

  • BD
    February 01, 2013 - 06:29

    Could you please stop posting Simeon's picture? It will only help to keep this going.

  • J
    February 01, 2013 - 06:27

    I personally don't think Simms should apologize for what he said. Time for some people to grow some thicker skin. That said, I wonder when the Inuit goes hunting the caribou will the authorities go after them the same way they went after the fishermen after the cod moratorium??

    • EP
      February 01, 2013 - 08:05

      It is time for the Canadian Government to step up and give up catering to the Indian people. I agree years ago they were wronged buy the Canadian people have paid many times over for this as well as the Indian people been granted all kinds of priviledges which in most caes they choose not to take advantage of! THe non indian people of Canada are the ones been discriminated against, why should the government pay for education, housing etc. for part of the population when the majority cannot afford these things without loans etc. ! I would like to see a Lawyer take on this as a class action suit! Come on Harper smarten up and treated all Canadians as one, not the majority as a minority!

    • Ernie Ford
      February 01, 2013 - 10:44

      J...They definitely will and if I remember correctly, when the cod moratorium came into effect fishermen from the island portion of the province received huge compensation cheques for their loss. I doubt very much if we will receive compensation for the loss of our caribou hunt. We are not lucky enough to get that kind of treatment in this part of the province.