OPP investigating hate mail incident in Burpee and Mills

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EVANSVILLE – While the Manitoulin detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is investigating a disrespectful letter that has been sent to several residents in the Township of Burpee and Mills, essentially telling them they are not welcome and that they should leave Manitoulin and that actions will be taken to make their lives unbearable, township council is making it clear that all residents, including newcomers, are welcome in the township and that this is the feeling of the community.

“I’m sure everyone has seen the addition to the agenda that (Councillor) Penny (Palonen) brought forward,” said Ken Noland, township reeve, at a council meeting last week. “There has been fliers on 9”-by-11” pieces of paper been dropped off at people’s mailboxes, with the bold letters at the top, ‘Warning—The Protectors of Spirit Island’.”

In the letters they are telling Mennonites or parties associated with them and anyone who has recently purchased property that they are not welcome here, said Reeve Noland.

The Recorder has a copy of the letter, which reads, “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. 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.” The letter adds, “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.”

Reeve Noland pointed out one of the people that had received a copy of the letter in their mailbox had brought the letter to him, and he phoned the OPP to report this. “They were really upset in receiving this letter; they came here several years ago and said at the time they were welcomed by everyone,” he said. “They couldn’t believe how welcomed they were when they moved to the Island, and they have become part of the community.”  

It was suggested by Councillor Art Hayden that maybe council should let the police investigate this letter further before having anything put in the newspaper.

Councillor Wayne Bailey said he would look into whether this type of letter has been sent to residents in other communities on the Island. 

The authors of the letter, “are bullies and cowards,” stated Reeve Noland.

“We need to let everyone who received this letter know that this is not the general feeling of the municipality or people in the community,” said Councillor Marty Ainslie. “Doing stuff like this is cowardly.” 

Helena Wall, staff sergeant of the Manitoulin OPP, told the Recorder on Monday, “I can’t tell you too much about the investigation at this time. The incident happened around February 26 and 27, with a number of letters being sent to residents on Union Road (in Evansville). No, we don’t know at this time the exact numbers of people involved. It’s under investigation, and at this time there are no suspects identified.”  

“It is absolutely terrible that this took place,” added Staff Sergeant Wall.