A Nanaimo woman has reached out to issue a public apology after racial slurs she posted online went viral.
“I feel completely horrible about it,” said Alysha Stewart in a phone interview with Victoria Buzz on Wednesday morning.
This week, Stewart shared posts on Facebook using the ‘N’ word in reaction to the recent Black Lives Matter protests that were sparked by the police killing of unarmed Black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis MN.
In her post Stewart makes statements like “I would have done the same thing. But worse…” while citing news articles about Floyd’s death.
This morning, Stewart stated that those statements were a part of a private post in a heated conversation with another person and were taken out of context. Still, she agrees that does not excuse her views or online behaviour.
“I do not mean it. That’s not how I talk on a day to day basis. That’s a keyboard warrior attitude that I have sometimes,” says Stewart.
“I’m never saying the ‘n’ word again and I’m probably going to talk to a counsellor about [my issues]. I’m completely floored and embarrassed with myself. I would just apologize from the bottom of my heart, not because I don’t wanna get hurt but because I did not mean it like that.”
The Nanaimo resident says she is Native American, comes from a low income background, and has experienced ample racism herself.
Employment and the role of law enforcement
When her social media posts first started going viral, many expressed outrage and created petitions to have her suspended by what appeared to be her employer—Vancouver Island Health Authority—over concerns about how she might be treating patients in her care.
This prompted VIHA to conduct an internal investigation which found that Stewart does not and never has worked for Island Health.
However in conversation with Stewart on Wednesday, it was revealed that she did in fact work for Island Health under her maiden name ‘Chattaway’ until 2015.
Once presented with this information, VIHA issued the following statement:
“Safe, quality patient care for all of the people we serve is a top priority for Island Health. We encourage anyone with a concern about the care they received to contact our Patient Care Quality Office. We investigate every complaint.”
Stewart also says she has been receiving death threats as a result of her racist posts, which have since been taken down, and individuals have been egging her home. As a result of feeling unsafe, she contacted Nanaimo RCMP.
“Police had a discussion with her and as far as I know the file has concluded at this point,” said Cst. Gary O’Brien of Nanaimo RCMP.
Multiple people had also filed cases against Stewart for posting hate speech online.
According to Stewart, she was also contacted by a Victoria Police officer. While VicPD declined to comment as the case is outside their jurisdiction, Stewart says there is no indication that she is being investigated for any crime by either department.
“They said if I feel in danger, I should call the cops but there’s nothing that they can do about it,” added Stewart.
“They let me know to remove social media accounts, not to engage in hate speech, remove myself from that environment and let this blow over.”