01/17/2018 07:36 EST | Updated 01/18/2018 17:43 EST

'Racist' posters removed from University of New Brunswick campus

FREDERICTON — Posters featuring a "racist and bigoted" message have been removed from a number of buildings on the University of New Brunswick campus in Fredericton.

The posters make inflammatory statements about the former residential school system in Canada and call on readers to reject what it calls an anti-white narrative being pushed in media and academia.

"Overwhelmingly, Native Americans are beneficiaries, and not victims, of the society built by Europeans," the poster says.

The poster is topped by a Red Ensign flag.

David Stonehouse, a spokesman for the university, said the posters are "racist" and disheartening.

"These posters are being removed as discovered as part of our commitment to a safe and respectful environment for all members of the UNB community," Stonehouse said in an emailed statement.

"While we encourage and applaud critical thought and respectful dialogue, we do not tolerate disrespect or the marginalization of any group in any form."

Matthew Sears, an associate professor in classics and ancient history at UNB, said students he has spoken with have been surprised and saddened by the posters.

He used their discovery as an opportunity to address the issue during his classes Tuesday.

Sears said the posters are factually incorrect.

"They were essentially a message of residential school denialism, saying it's a lie and it's slander that academics say that Indian residential schools were places of torture and death. It says in fact that European colonialism benefited Indigenous peoples," Sears said.  

"It says 'natives' and white Canadians should band together to stand against the foreign invaders, which I took to mean predominantly Muslim immigrants and refugees. It was Islamaphobic and it was racist and bigoted against Indigenous people," he said.

The posters are anonymous and don't contain any names or email addresses.

Stonehouse said campus security is investigating and Fredericton police have been made aware of the incident.

"The matter has been assigned to an investigator," Fredericton police said in an emailed statement Wednesday. "The investigation is ongoing and no other details will be released at this moment in order to protect the integrity of the investigation."