Destine Spiller was arrested over online comments that threatened violence against Indigenous people. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Opaskwayak Cree Nation

‘Valuable life lesson’: Woman arrested for anti-Indigenous comments apologizes

Believed to be first time in Canada mediation circle used for non-Indigenous offender

A woman arrested in northern Manitoba for online comments threatening violence against Indigenous people has asked for forgiveness and says she has learned valuable lessons.

Destine Spiller wrote an apology at her final mediation circle Thursday in The Pas before reading it to elders and First Nations leaders. The group held hands, cried and prayed together.

“I uttered the statements out of anger and realized too late that these comments were hurtful,” said Spiller. “I have over and over wished I could take the statements back.”

Spiller and another woman were arrested on suspicion of uttering threats and on public incitement of hatred after the Facebook comments apeared in the summer of 2018.

A Facebook account under Spiller’s name posted photos of a vandalized car in Flin Flon, Man., and proposed a “shoot a Indian day” in retaliation.

Comments under the other woman’s name suggested a “24-hour purge” and “Let’s grab Budweiser and some shot guns.”

The two women were not formally charged. Instead, the province said the case was referred to the Restorative Justice Centre, which organized mediation circles over the last year between Spiller and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, a group that represents northern First Nations.

Christian Sinclair, the onekanew or leader of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, said it’s believed to be the first time in Canada that a mediation circle has been used for a non-Indigenous offender.

“We can deal with this business in a way that people come out of it feeling better about themselves, about justice being served in that context,” Sinclair said. “We are all learning and are all human beings at the end of this day and we have to live in this world together.”

It was clear that Spiller had no knowledge of Indigenous people, he added, and the restorative justice was about education rather than retribution.

“(It was) through a First Nations lens as opposed to the European justice system that’s about punitive approaches,” he explained.

“It becomes an opportunity of doing justice in a new way where it truly is restorative. Nobody came out of there feeling punished or ashamed. It was about making everybody a better person going forward.”

The first mediation circle a year ago began with Spiller reading out the Facebook posts to community members.

She also had a year to meet seven conditions based on Cree laws, values and traditions, including writing the apology and an essay on Indigenous issues.

She performed 80 hours of community service at a friendship centre and took an anger management program. She was also required to learn about the history of First Nations in Canada, residential schools, the ’60s Scoop and ongoing issues faced by Indigenous people.

The department said there were no updates, but prosecutors have two years from the time of the Facebook comments to lay criminal charges.

READ MORE: Indigenous hockey player buoyed by support after sharing experience with racism

Spiller, who flew from Alberta to attend the final mediation circle, said she lost her job in Manitoba after extensive condemnation of the comments online.

“You can be assured that I have learned a very valuable life lesson and will remember it for the rest of my life.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

Claims already being staked after GeoScience BC report released

In the first 15 days following the report, a total of 34 new claims were staked.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: Waulkwass River

A kingfisher and some trumpeter swans came by close enough to get a few shots.

Port Hardy RCMP investigating drug offences

Both vehicle occupants may face future charges related to the suspected drugs and cash.

Port McNeill’s Barb Drennan named forest technologist of the year

“Her work with the Heiltsuk First Nation is a model for other forest professionals”

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Most Read