MANITOULIN – While members of the Manitoulin Community Police Advisory Committee (CPAC) reported at a meeting last week they didn’t have any further knowledge of hate mail being sent to residents beyond Burpee and Mills (as was reported last week) from the individual calling themselves ‘Protectors of Spirit Island,’ the Recorder learned Monday morning that additional letters have been sent in at least one other community on Manitoulin.
One of the people who has received a letter is a well-known long-time resident of the Island who is perplexed as to why these letters have been sent out.
“It was a significant letter,” stated Ted Smith, of Evansville. “I’ve lived here on the Island for the past 20 years. I wasn’t born here but I grew up here as a kid and then returned about 20 years ago. I’ve lived here most of my life.”
“I didn’t know what to make of the letter when I received and read it,” said Mr. Smith. “I felt targeted.”
“But I mean, I don’t know what to make of this, somebody is obviously trying to stir up trouble.”
“The worst thing for me is that some of my neighbours were targeted as well,” stated Mr. Smith. “It is horrific; when you target and threaten people it is not acceptable.”
“This is more of an awareness issue about an incident in our township about a week ago, where newsletters were typed and put in the mailboxes of some of our residents. One of the first to receive this (hate mail) was a young couple. The wife was at home alone and she was very frightened when she read the letter,” Wayne Bailey, a member of Burpee and Mills council, at the CPAC meeting last week.
As was reported in last week’s edition of the Recorder, the letter states “Warning: The Protectors of Spirit Island. The Protectors of Spirit Island are issuing a warning to the following groups of individuals, Mennonites or parties associated with them. People that have recently purchased property on Spirit Island. Individuals that have moved here for their own selfish and greedy agenda.”
“We know who you are and we know where you live and you are no longer welcome on our Island, we are taking it back,” the letter continues. “We are not a violent people and are asking you to leave our Island, but if you refuse, we will make your life here unbearable. Please don’t take this lightly as we are not; this is our Island and we plan on protecting it and the people that belong here.”
“Fortunately, our (township Reeve Ken Noland) has a very good relationship with people who received the letters and Ken got in touch with OPP Constable John Robertson alerting him on this. Since then two other couples have come to Ken with the same letters. He has gone out and made sure that the township welcomes and values them in the community.”
Councillor Bailey asked members of the committee, “are there other people getting these letters in other communities?”
“Not to my knowledge in our municipality,” said Steve Shaffer, a member of council for the municipality of Central Manitoulin, “but I will reach out.”
Lee Hayden, reeve of Gordon/Barrie Island said, “Reeve Noland alerted me about the newsletters having been sent out. I’m not aware we have been targeted. I will make our clerk and staff aware of this.” He stressed as well, “it is not just Amish people, but all newcomers and residents that have been targeted.”
“There has been nothing reported in Billings,” stated Councillor Bryan Barker.
Councillor Bailey said the letters appear to have been sent, “by a disgruntled individual or a group.”
“There is nothing so far in Tehkummah,” said Rick Gordon.
Megan Moriarity, inspector and detachment commander of the Manitoulin OPP told the committee, “the letter is being reviewed by our crime unit and is currently under investigation. This is something that is being taken very seriously.”
Al Boyd, chair of CPAC and a member of council for the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands said, “I was unaware of this issue. I’m sure our CAO would have brought it to council’s attention if there have been any reports here in town.”
Carmen Runnalls, a Gore Bay resident, is hoping to get some support from local people to make those who received the letters feel a little more comfortable, and to indicate that members of the community want and welcome them into their community. She posted a message to Facebook saying, “I would like to put together a care package of letters of encouragement and support for the folks out in Burpee and Mills that received that nasty hate mail. I would like our neighbours to know they are loved and welcome in our community. If you would like to be involved, I am happy to collect your letters at my home and deliver them in a week’s time to the township office to be distributed amongst the families that were affected by this atrocious attack on them. As the victims are anonymous and should stay that way for the course of the (OPP) investigation, please do not direct your letter to any one person or family, but instead write it as a general act of friendship and acceptance. I’m sure that any other displays of kindness, no matter if it’s just a friendly smile or a simple hello, towards our neighbours will also be appreciated.”
Helena Wall, Manitoulin OPP detachment commander told the Recorder on Monday, “an investigation is ongoing.” Additional letters have been sent out to, and reported by, Manitoulin residents.