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

All Kootenay Boundary parks and outdoor facilities closed

RDKB reminds all residents the shutdown is for public safety and in response to COVID-19

Trail police investigating early morning brush fire

Call of trees on fire came into Kootenay Boundary fire department just before 1:30 a.m.

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Pandemic has Trail council re-considering budget, tax increase

Coronavirus changes forecast, city leaders deciding what changes to make in 2020

West Kootenay octogenarian helping develop low-cost ventilator for COVID-19 patients

Peter Brockley is working with his doctor son, Graham, to develop the unit that could save lives

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Most Read