Andy Kulscynski is in the back row on the far right in this undated council photo. Photo: RM of Springfield
APTN News: A politician from a bedroom community outside Winnipeg has apologized for racist comments recorded at a recent council meeting and posted to Facebook.
Andy Kuczynski, who represents Ward 2 in the Rural Municipality (RM) of Springfield, says he meant no offence. “I am sorry for the hurt and disrespect caused by my words,” Kuczynski said in a statement to APTN News Tuesday. “That certainly was not my intention.”
At the Aug. 8 council meeting, the rookie councillor was recorded wondering if a proposed new seniors complex would attract people from the north and bring more “native people” to the RM of Springfield.
“If there is senior citizens and people that need assisted living or whatever some place up north, they are going to bring them here, because they say truth and reconciliation, so I know what that means.” Kuczynski said at the time.
“They will bring lots of people, probably native people here to this community.”
Kuczynski also suggested it would be difficult to turn Indigenous people away if they are seeking housing in Springfield, which has a population of about 16,000. “At this point we don’t have it but it’s going to happen,” he said in an audio recording obtained by APTN News. “You’re never going to say, ‘No, we’re not going to accept these people.’”
The comments, shared widely on social media, were condemned by Springfield Mayor Patrick Therrien and others.
Therrien said they were “repugnant” and did not represent the RM of Springfield, which hugs the eastern edge of Winnipeg.https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpermalink.php%3Fstory_fbid%3Dpfbid0Z1ZG9AhSRxzFseqNgdcVnUy25Uid4wXRaMQvWjtP8aDZt33HfouMFz5fdmb4KCkEl%26id%3D100069242978599&show_text=true&width=500
The council posted a statement on its Facebook page saying it does not share the views expressed, or condone racism or discrimination of any kind.
The issue came to light after a post on the private Facebook page Oakbank Rant and Rave called out the racist comment. It prompted the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to demand the mayor take immediate action and for Kuczynski to ”reflect upon the gravity of his words.”
Kuczynski said he was sorry.
“It was important to clear up any misunderstanding that rooms would not be reserved only for residents of Springfield. I should have used Indigenous or First Nations persons in my question. I did not in any way mean to be disrespectful. I apologize for that,” his statement said.
“I have zero concern about people from any background coming to Springfield. I myself am an immigrant and I would welcome everyone just as I have been welcomed to Manitoba. I only wanted to clarify that it will be up to the Health Authority to decide who will come to live in the care home and I will be proud to serve as their Councillor if the project is completed within my term. I want to be clear that I am not prejudiced towards ANY person or ANY culture.”