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This First Nations Chief Confronted A Man After He Called Her A Slur

"I hear it all the time in Alberta," the man said when asked about using the slur.

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This is Sheila North Wilson, the grand chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents 30 First Nations in the province.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak

North Wilson and her assistant Jennifer Wood were flying from Winnipeg to Saskatoon this week for a conference when someone seated behind them on the flight apparently made a racist remark, calling them "wagon burners."

North Wilson told BuzzFeed Canada that while she didn't hear the comment herself, a woman seated next to the man told her about it after the plane landed.

North Wilson confronted the man afterwards, capturing part of the interaction on video. "Why did you call us wagon burners?" she asked him.

Instagram: @shenorthwilson

Another person can be heard in the clip saying, "We never heard that term in Canada."

The unidentified man, whom North Wilson described as a Texan who works in Alberta, admitted he had used that term.

"I hear it all the time in Alberta, so I'm sorry," he said. "I apologize."

North Wilson said that according to the other passenger, the man was peeved because he wasn't able to have a row of seats to himself.

Sheila North Wilson

North Wilson said that before she and her assistant boarded, the man had been sitting in their seats.

"This gentleman was not happy he had to move seats, and he said to this woman 'Oh, wagon burners,'" North Wilson said. "He also made a gesture with his fingers like a feather over his head."

She said she wanted to engage him and seek a more thorough explanation for his comments, but he was eager to get out of there.

"For him to think that this was OK because he heard it in Alberta was a little disturbing. I know a lot of Albertans and I know they wouldn't call me that," she said.

North Wilson shared the video on her social accounts to expose what many Indigenous people routinely deal with.

Facebook: sheiscree

"People are appalled that he could say that in this day and age," she said. "People are sharing it and all of them are in support of calling out racism and pointing it out when it happens."

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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