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LETTER: Redneck moniker damages Shelburne’s reputation


I have to take great exception to the headline and inferences in the Coast Guard article, “Town officials taking ‘redneck’ complaint seriously in Shelburne”, which appeared in the online edition of the paper on July 8.

 As an attendee at the July 6 meeting, I can safely say that there was no indication of “town officials” taking seriously the complaints by Josh Brown or several others who testified opposing the “redneck” event at Founders’ Days.

 Despite what appears to be a revisionist version in the article of events from the meeting – or perhaps a dramatic overnight change of heart by officials – nothing in the behaviour of the officials present that night suggested they were taking “redneck” complaints seriously. In fact, the mayor appeared to be defensive and combative during the meeting and Mr. Heide and deputy mayor Rhuland both took great pains to excoriate Josh Brown for not bringing his concerns forward sooner.

 Mr. Heide went so far as to accuse Josh Brown of “manufacturing an artificial time-sensitivity” for Council to deal with the issue.

 Committee members who did not represent the Town – and all but one of the public testifying - were generally opposed to having the event continue as is. Louise Delisle said that, as a black person, she knew "what racism is in this community," and felt the thrust of the "redneck" ideal was racist in its nature. RCMP constable Kirk Naye said he found the term "redneck" offensive. Janet O'Connell said that she had several problems with the event, including its connection to Duck Dynasty and its "redneck" flavour, among others.

Your readers should know it was only these committee members who voted to forward the proposed changes to Council. The Town officials on the Committee – Mayor Mattatall and Deputy Mayor Rhuland - vigorously defended the “redneck” moniker and opposed the motion, which then passed with a bare majority.

Founders' Days is now wholly a Town-sponsored event, and because there can be no question that, worldwide, "redneck" has a predominately negative connotation, infused with bigotry and racism, the promotion of a "redneck" ideal amounts to Town staff and funds – not to mention the two most senior elected officials - actively working to damage the Town's reputation to the outside world.

After celebrating the glorious grand opening of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre - one of Canada's premier cultural institutions - the Town now proceeds to celebrate and glorify a destructive, dangerous and obnoxious ethos.

Makes no sense, does it? 

Timothy Gillespie

Shelburne

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