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Indigenous man challenges MPI's decision to revoke personalized 'NDN CAR' licence plate
Bruce Spence, a Nehiyaw Indigenous man living in Winnipeg, is challenging a Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) decision to revoke his personalized “NDN CAR” license plate. Photo submitted by Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
Bruce Spence, a Nehiyaw Indigenous man living in Winnipeg, is challenging a Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) decision to revoke his personalized “NDN CAR” licence plate.
Spence, a producer with Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN), purchased the license plate seven years ago and chose the inscription as a refernce to the 1992 song “Indian Cars” by Indigenous musician, Keith Secol.
The music video for the song features an old broken-down car, which was what Mr. Spence was driving when he purchased the plate.
According to a release from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, last May, MPI staff phoned Spence to tell him they received a complaint about the plate saying it was offensive and “ethnic slang.”
Spence wrote to Manitoba crown services minister Colleen Mayer to express his concern over MPI’s call:
“I have received nothing but happy smiles and thumbs up signs from fellow travelers across Canada and the United States because people recognize the sign for what it is, a tribute to being an indigenous person driving a car,” Spence wrote. “This song is an anthem to humble people just trying to get around the best way we can.”
Spence didn’t hear form MPI until this past February when MPI wrote to him of their decision to revoke the licence plate.
MPI stated in the letter that it was in the process of reviewing all personalized plates and Spence’s plate “has been identified in our review as phrases or innuendos that may be considered offensive.”
Spence is being represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
In response to CTV's request for comment, Brian Smiley, the media relations coordinator for MPI said, "As this has now become a litigious matter, MPI will not be providing any further comment.”