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Divisive ways of speaking about each other don’t help us as a nation, says UBC Prof

Updated: It was appropriate to fire Don Cherry who singled out immigrants during Saturday’s Coach’s Corner for not wearing poppies according to a UBC professor.

“I think it’s an accumulation he’s always been outrageous,” said David Lam Chair in multicultural education Dr. Annette Henry.

“I think it was totally uncalled for. It was discriminatory and he was also making assumptions about people. People might not be buying poppies for all kinds of reasons but that’s sort of getting away from the issue at hand which is its blatant discrimination and he’s making assumptions about people without the knowledge so it’s really unsubstantiated.”

Henry added that while she can understand why some people would say they don’t understand Cherry’s firing as he has always been outrageous, one of the things that strikes her is that Cherry is unapologetic.

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“He’s really not listening to what is happening in this country and how we are thinking about how we live together in this country,” Henry said.

“I don’t want to say he hasn’t moved with the times, but clearly there are things are just not acceptable today that never really was acceptable to those of us who were the targets but people wouldn’t do too much about them. There was a time when even thinking about some of the things that was said and did to women, people would just say boys will be boys or that’s how men are but now today we’re saying this is absolutely unacceptable and I think he has to realize that it’s unacceptable.”

Sportsnet has not said whether it plans to keep the “Coach’s Corner” segment, or named any possible replacements for Cherry.

Henry said there is a difference between hate speech and freedom of speech.

“The whole thing is outrageous but I think what we can take away from this is really this is not what we stand for,” Henry said.

“We need to be kind and welcoming and accepting to everyone who is here, and these divisive ways of speaking about each other don’t help us as a nation.”

A viral petition says while Cherry may be politically incorrect and may not have been as careful as he should have in his remarks, it argues his offense does not warrant firing.

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