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Northwest B.C. MLA’s billboard in Smithers vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti

Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen called out propagators of hate crime after his highway billboard sign was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti sometime this week.

A swastika was drawn across Cullen on the Billboard, on Hwy 16 west of Smithers, with the words “DOC Bonnie Hitler” scribbled at the bottom.

Calling the incident a “blatant act of anti-Semitic vandalism,” Cullen sad this is not the first time people have used such terrible, hateful imagery.

The incident was reported to the RCMP on Thursday, Dec.2 and the police have begun invesgitating, said Sgt. Chris Manseau.

“Anti-Semitism, racism, and discrimination affect the entire community, not just those targeted,” said the MLA in a Dec. 1 social media post. “As a descendant of Jewish people, I can tell you of the pain and hurt these images cause within the community and many others. It simply must stop.”

Smithers has been home to more anti-vaccination and anti-restriction rallies than most places in northwest B.C. With a vaccination rate (double dose for people aged 12 and above) at 75 per cent in Smithers, it ranks lower than neighbouring local health areas such as Terrace (82 per cent), Kitimat (95 per cent), Prince Rupert (84 per cent).

In the Nov. 15 legislature, Cullen had spoken in support of Bill 20-2021 the Access to Services Act., which looks at establishing hospitals, schools, COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites etc. as “bubble zones,” restricting access to protesters. Cullen discussed the challenges faced by frontline workers in his constituency of Smithers because of protests at hospital sites.

He also spoke about his Jewish heritage and how some protests in his community were using the yellow Stars of David and other Holocaust symbols when protesting science and vaccines.

“It is so ludicrous, it is so insensitive, it is so inflammatory to use images of the Holocaust to describe public health orders in British Columbia and in Canada right now,” Cullen had said in the legislature.

Further speaking about the billboard vandalism, Cullen said the provincial NDP government stands with anyone in B.C. who is facing racism and anti-Semitism.

“Should you witness or become the victim of a hate crime, I encourage you to report it to your local authority or reach out to the Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network for support,” said Cullen.

The billboard vandalism also took place around the same time Cullen was issued an eviction notice from Hazelton by Gitxsan hereditary chiefs on Nov. 27 owing to RCMP arrests and escalating pipeline violence in Houston.

The billboard defacement does not appear to be related to that conflict.

READ MORE: Gitxsan hereditary chiefs issue Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen eviction notice from Hazelton

Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

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Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

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