'A conversation that needs to be had': Ochapowace Nation rallies around Ethan Bear

Members of the Ochapowace Nation rallied in support of Ethan Bear on Monday after the NHL player faced online racism last week.

Bear, who is from the Ochapowace Nation, called out the racism he faced after an Edmonton Oilers’ playoff loss. In a social media post, he said he is proud of who he is and where he came from.

Monday’s rally was meant to bring awareness to racism, what it does and how it hurts, while also showing Bear support.

“We’re here to let him know that we are behind you, we stand with you on calling out racism,” Margaret Bear, the chief of Ochapowace Nation, said. “It’s wonderful to see that it took a young person – one of our youth – to know that that wasn’t right.”

Ethan’s mom, Geraldine Bear, said while the comments were hurtful to everyone, the community isn’t focusing on the negative.

“We focused on the positive of the response from everyone that came,” Geraldine said. “He wasn’t alone in it.”

The support for Ethan wasn’t only shown by his home First Nation. It also poured in from across the country.

Geraldine said it was heartwarming to know her son was in a good place and surrounded by people who love him.

She said as a mother, she is proud to see the stance Ethan took by encouraging everyone to do their part in calling out racism.

“It’s not an easy conversation, but it’s a conversation that needs to be had,” Courage Bear, a member of the Ochapowace Nation Recreation Committee, said. “If you can find the good in something and look for the good that everybody has in them and find a positive pathway forward, I think that’s kind of the end goal.”

Chief Bear said this is the beginning and that Ochapowace Nation wants to continue what Ethan started.