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Joni Mitchell sparks controversy in Saskatoon

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Canadian singer / songwriter Joni Mitchell has courted controversy after openly criticizing Saskatoon. In an interview with The StarPhoenix on Wednesday, the 69-year-old described her hometown as an “extremely bigoted community” and likened it to the “Deep South," in response to another failed attempt by the city to honour one of its most famous residents.

There have been several failed attempts over the past decade to pay tribute to Mitchell, including a cultural centre, a statue, and a proposed art gallery wing which was to be named after her. However all of the proposals have fallen through and the star is now distancing herself from future projects after describing the situation as “laughable.”

"I love Saskatoon. Don't get me wrong," she said. "I had such enjoyable teenage years there. I started to play the guitar and paint there. My gifts began there. But I cannot go through another one of these. If you want to do something, leave me out of it. Just do it."

The latest plans included a museum that would showcase a collection of Mitchell's personal items, including homemade dresses and scrapbooks that were originally her mother’s. Now, however, Mitchell says that she wants it returned: "All I want is my stuff back. I just want my stuff back. I have place to store it. It won't be of any use to Saskatoon."

Reaction in Saskatoon to Mitchell’s comments has been mixed. Ward 2 Councillor Pat Lorje said the singer's comments were a warning to the city:

"If that's how we are perceived by people who no longer live here, we need to take the time to sit back, reflect on the perception of Saskatoon by others and do everything possible to correct that perception," she said.

Residents were less supportive however, taking to social networking sites to mock the singer.

What do you think of Joni Mitchell’s comments? Let us know in the comments below.

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