When Mishel Assiniboine first read a hateful, threatening letter left on her doorstep, fear made her hesitate about speaking out.
Assiniboine's five-year-old son found the typed message on Tuesday, stuffed into the railing on her front porch in Leduc, Alta. He innocently thought it was a clue in a game he often plays with his two siblings. "We do not like your kind around here," said the letter, signed by "Your friendly neighbours."
"We see in your house and you portray an Indian lifestyle. This is not accepted here."
Assiniboine has lived in her neighbourhood in Leduc, which is just south of Edmonton, for 20 years. The letter reflected the racism she and her family, who are Indigenous, have experienced for generations, she told HuffPost Canada in an interview.
After she took the letter from her son, Assiniboine said she read it over and over again.
She thought of the times her home had been vandalized, when "Go back to the rez" was spray-painted on her garage door, and when she found urine on her car's door handle and the tires slashed.
She thought of her mother who survived a residential school.
"My mother has experienced a lot of racism and she never says anything because she's afraid to and I thought, 'You know what? I'm not going to be afraid.' I'm going to put this out there and make people aware this stuff is happening," said Assiniboine, who is a member of Long Plain First Nation in Manitoba.
Assiniboine shared the letter with family and friends, and local media, but said she wasn't sure how people would react. So far, the thousands of people who've read her story have only been supportive.
"The whole community of Leduc is rallying behind me. People are saying, this is disgusting this letter showed up in Leduc," Assiniboine said.
Watch: Alberta portrait project challenges stereotypes. Story continues below.
The RCMP is now investigating and Deputy Mayor Bill Hamilton said in a statement that the City of Leduc and its councillors are "deeply disappointed" by the letter.
"Our city prides itself on being a caring community that is welcoming and supportive of every person in the community — no matter age, sexual orientation, or ethnic background. We do not tolerate any kind of hateful behaviour," Hamilton said.
We're not going to move.Mishel Assiniboine
Assiniboine's home has been subjected to repeated vandalism over the years, she said, including vehicles driving across her lawn, and the air let out of her car tires. Now Assiniboine wonders if those incidents are connected to the letter's author, who threatened to make complaints to police and the city's bylaw office.
"This will not stop until you are gone. Move out. Move out," the letter said.
It also makes reference to a family in St. Albert, Alta. who received a similar letter last fall, and later moved from their condo.
"St. Albert got rid of their own Indians and so can we," said the letter Assiniboine received.
To that, Assiniboine stands her ground: "We're not going to move."
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