A Winnipeg radio host has been suspended after his show posted two YouTube music videos that critics argue reinforce harmful stereotypes about Indigenous people and are sexist.
Dave Wheeler, of 92 CITI FM's Wheeler in the Morning, was suspended Monday after animated videos featuring the songs "North End Boy" and "Transcona Girls" sparked outrage online. The videos have since been taken down.
"North End Boy" is set to the tune of John Denver's "Thank God I'm A Country Boy." Lyrics include, "Well there's holes in the wall and blood stained red / I try to fall asleep but I got no bed / I go outside try not to end up dead / Thank God I'm a North-End boy." The song also discusses the joys of getting drunk and high without having to work "'cause I collect EI" and repeats the line "Life ain't nothing but bitches and money / Thank god I'm a North End boy."
Meanwhile, "Transcona Girls," a play off the Beach Boys' "California Girls," talks about North End daughters who "really like to stab you and steal your bike," and who've been "passed around this great big town and they just don't seem to care."
Both songs were created two years ago, but were brought to the public's attention when the animated videos were posted online this week.
In light of the controversy, Wheeler issued an apology on Facebook, saying his jokes "were insensitive and went too far."
But local Indigenous activist Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie, 22, of the Sagkeeng First Nation, who has planned a protest outside the radio station for Tuesday, said the suspension and apology is just a public relations move. She's calling for Wheeler to be fired and for higher-ups at the station to take responsibility for approving the videos in the first place.
She told VICE there is a large Indigenous populations in North End area of the city, and many people there live in poverty. The song is "basically laughing at them for being in that situation."
As for "Transcona Girls," she said the slut-shaming lyrics are "really triggering."
Winnipeg's Red River is notorious for being a dumping grounds for missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
Last year, Maclean's declared Winnipeg the most racist city in Canada. In an effort to address the issue, Mayor Brian Bowman has declared 2016 the Year of Reconciliation.
Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.