Gay First Nations Canadian Says House Burning Was Hate Crime

by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday Jun 2, 2010

The blaze that destroyed a gay Native American's home was an anti-gay hate crime, the victim says.

The blaze destroyed the home of Raymond Michell, a resident of Pegius First Nation, a Native American community near Winnipeg, Canada, reported Canadian news service CBC News in a June 1 article.

Authorities are investigating the blaze as arson, but Mitchell thinks that it may also have been a hate crime. Remnants of food and drink--including beer bottles--were found in the kitchen of the incinerated house, but it seemed that some electronic appliances were missing from the scorched ruins.

"Someone had broken in, partied, obviously ate and set fire to the house," Michell told the media. The victim had lived in Pegius as a child, but left, he said, because of the town's anti-gay attitude. He later moved back to Pegius; two years ago, he and his boyfriend, now deceased, built the now-destroyed house.

"In this day and age with the way things are with rights and same-sex marriages in Canada, I just really don't feel safe here," Michell said of the community, which has about 7,200 residents. "I would say it's the same thing as when I was a child. It's homophobia. It's alive and living here just as I left it." Michell told the media that he would be leaving Pegius once again.

His claim to the media was not reflercted in the police statement he made, according to Sgt. Bill Richards, who said that Michell had not indicated that the fire might have been set out of anti-gay animus. The community's chief, Glenn Hudson, also downplayed such speculation, telling the media, "Traditionally, historically, we've been very accepting of all colours and walks of life."

According to the chief, Michell could receive $1,500 from the council to help him recover from the loss. Michell said that the community had not made any overtures of assistance.

The residents of Pegius First Nation--which is the largest of the First Nations communities--are descended from Cree and Ojibway Native Americans, according to Wikipedia.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


  • Reality.Bites, 2010-06-02 11:44:54

    There is no such thing as a "Canadian Native American" just as there is no such thing as a "Canadian African-American." Although the proper term is "First Nations," "Native Canadian" would have conveyed his heritage without demonstrating that you think the whole bloody world revolves around the United States!

  • boichild, 2010-06-02 13:49:34

    Actually the word American in Native American refers to the continent of North America as a whole, not the U.S. So technically yes he can be called a Canadian Native American because he is native to North America and is a citizen of Canada.

  • Lyndon Evans, 2010-06-02 21:04:37

    However .... the writer chose to change the correct term of First Nation as written in the CBC article to Native American which is incorrect. When doing a rewrite one should apply the correct geo-description of an individual. Points for RealityBites ... none for boichild. And a D- for Kilian.

  • bpm, 2010-06-03 23:13:40

    A man lost his home shortly after losing his partner and all you people can comment on are typos. PATHETIC!

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