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.