12/12/2014 01:05 EST | Updated 02/11/2015 05:59 EST

Adrian Raeside Cartoon In Times Colonist Accused Of Being Racist

An editorial cartoonist with Victoria newspaper The Times Colonist is apologizing after one of his cartoon came under fire for being racist.

The cartoon by Adrian Raeside depicts a city council meeting in Victoria, starting with acknowledging it's being held on the traditional territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, which is standard practice at all Victoria city council meetings.

The trees that were cut down to build city hall, and any displaced wildlife are also acknowledged, and in the last frame, someone pipes up to say that the bugs trampled by construction workers also need acknowledgement.

The cartoon offended First Nations leaders, who said it insinuated First Nations people are being equated with bugs.

Doug White, the director of Vancouver Island University's Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation and a former Snuneymuxw Chief, demanded the Time Colonist editorial board have a sit down meeting with First Nations leaders.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps tweeted she would be writing a letter to the Times Colonist.

Cartoonist Adrian Raeside issued an apology for the cartoon. The apology was published online on Thursday.

Raeside told On The Island's Gregor Craigie he agrees it's important for city council to acknowledge the traditional territories of First Nations, and says the message of his cartoon was misinterpreted.

"The problem is we so often say these things and then we jut leave it at that. We just leave these empty words up in the air. It's lip service," he said.

"There are far more pressing problems for the First Nations out there, but we tend to say these things to make ourselves feel good."

Raeside said he shouldn't have included the last line about bugs in the cartoon. He said he never thought it would be taken as offensive.

"I actually do apologize if I've offended anyone for that cartoon. That was not my intention whatsoever," he said.

Raeside has drawn other cartoons about issues facing First Nations, something he says is a sensitive topic, but not one he's shied away from.

"As a cartoonist, we're not supposed to tiptoe around issues because they're sensitive. We're supposed to tackle issues head on."

On twitter, UBC post-doctoral fellow Toby Rollo posted another cartoon drawn by Raeside, depicting Santa Claus with a small bag of presents labelled "taxpayers" and a large stocking with a name tag from the Nuu-chah-nulth​ First Nation.

"I support a lot of the things we're doing to try to improve the lives of First Nations, and it's not enough." Raeside said.

"I try and draw my cartoons as tastefully as possible."

To hear Adrian Raeside's interview with On The Island's Gregor Craigie, click the audio labelled: Adrian Raeside cartoon in Times Colonist accused of being racist.


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