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Senator’s racism: Tories can’t help themselves

Valerie Lannon

April 30, 2017

On March 7 2017, Tory Senator Lynn Beyak told her fellow senators that residential schools were actually of benefit to Indigenous peoples. She stated,

 “I speak partly for the record, but mostly in memory of the kindly and well-intentioned men and women and their descendants…whose remarkable works, good deeds and historical tales in the residential schools go unacknowledged for the most part and are overshadowed by negative reports.”

Senator Murray Sinclair, who led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s review of residential schools, rejected Beyak’s disgusting assertion. There was immediate opposition to Beyak from both grassroots activists and elected politicians, calling for her removal from the Senate.

In an open letter to Beyak, an Anishinaabe woman from Ottawa, Danielle Lanouette wrote,

“I’m writing to you as the granddaughter of a residential school survivor… We are still living with the trauma that the residential school system has inflicted on my family…The job of the Indian Residential School System was to “kill the Indian in the child,” as said by Indian Affairs Deputy Superintendent Duncan Campbell Scott…You can’t deny that the Indian Residential School System was built with the goal of eradicating my culture, and ultimately, my people.”

Despite these denunciations, Beyak refused to apologize for her comments. She told the CBC that she doesn't need any more education about the institutions, that she "suffered " alongside the survivors, and dismissed coverage of her comments as "fake news."

Even leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, which administered schools that took in hundreds of students, penned a forceful letter to Beyak to declare “there was nothing good” about institutions rife with physical and sexual abuse, that stripped children from their families and denied them their heritage.

She was finally booted off the Aboriginal committee of the Senate on April 9. But before that, all the Tory leadership had to say was that Beyak’s views did not represent the Tory party and that “she sent the wrong message.” So it’s all about messaging and nothing about stopping the extraction of resources on Indigenous territories or respecting the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

While the Senate is a useless institution, Beyak should have been kicked out all together.  All we would say is “Good riddance.  Let the door hit you on the way out.”

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