Joel Holmberg was appalled by vitriol against indigenous people. So he invited them to live on his property, rent-free
Joel Holmberg had been batting the idea around for years. But the final decision came last month, as he scrolled through the online vitriol that erupted after a white farmer was acquitted of killing a young Cree man in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
Holmberg turned to social media, but instead of joining in the often-vicious debate surrounding that case, he offered to share his familys five-acre property in northern Alberta with a First Nations family. There would be no bills, no rent, he explained.
Instead the family could join him, his wife and two children in living off the land; hunting, fishing and growing food.
I wanted to offer some sort of hope, said Holmberg. It was really disgusting to see the way the racist people were speaking. I wanted to let them know that its not everyone in Canada that feels that way.
The invitation to share his acreage near Barrhead, about 100km north-west of Edmonton, seemed like a fair one.
We all know in our heart the truth, that this is all stolen land, said the 45-year-old. Theyre our hosts and were their guests and theyve been criminally abused for far too long and it has to stop.
Holmberg said his appreciation for First Nations culture began as a child growing up in British Columbia, when members of the Sinixt First Nation began bringing him along as they hunted and fished. I had the opportunity to do sweats with them and learn about their culture from them and learn about the real history of Canada, he said.