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Despite growing calls for his resignation, a village councillor in Prince Edward Island allegedly won’t step down from council after he displayed a sign on his property denying the existence of residential school graves.

P.E.I. Sen. Brian Francis, Abegweit First Nation Chief Roderick Gould Jr. and the mayor of the 300-person village of Murray Harbour have all called for John Robertson to resign from his seat on council.

Ahead of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a large sign on Robertson’s property displayed the message, “Truth: mass grave hoax” and “Reconciliation: Redeem Sir John A.’s integrity.”

Murray Harbour Mayor Terry White said in an interview Tuesday that Robertson had refused to quit council or apologize for the sign.

Attempts to reach Robertson Tuesday were unsuccessful.

“I said you would have to do an apology, and (he said): `No, I will not do an apology,’” White said of his recent conversation with Robertson.

The mayor said Monday he received a letter calling for Robertson’s resignation from the other members of council. The village has launched an investigation into the matter, which could result in Robertson being fined and or suspended for a period of six months, White said.

“He said he wasn’t going to resign, so I mean, all I can do is go through the legal channels,” White said.

Sen. Francis, a former chief of Abegweit First Nation, said in a letter posted to social media Sunday that Robertson should immediately step down because of the hateful message he displayed.

“We must work together to confront denialism whenever we encounter it and hold individuals who perpetuate this violence accountable,” Francis said.

The senator said Robertson’s sign is an example of how “individuals use their positions of power and privilege to not just deny but minimize and even ridicule established facts about the historical and ongoing injustices faced by our communities, including how our children suffered physical, sexual, physiological, cultural and spiritual abuses, as well as died, while in the care of Canada and churches.”

Chief Gould said in a letter on Oct. 4 that “having individuals in a position of power that spread misinformation and hate goes directly against reconciliation and continues to divide Indigenous persons and other residents.”

In his letter, Gould offered to attend a council meeting to provide education about residential schools. In response, White said Gould will speak Wednesday evening at the village’s council meeting, which is open to the public.

In May 2021, the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced that ground-penetrating radar had revealed the possible remains of as many as 215 children around the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia’s Interior. Since then, many other First Nations across Canada have searched school sites in their territories for graves.

Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, is considered the architect of Confederation – and of the residential school system, who championed policies of assimilation and violence toward Indigenous people.

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