Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman says Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak should resign for suggesting Indigenous Canadians are not citizens.

"A Canadian senator s/d know who Canadian citizens are," Bowman tweeted Thursday, adding the hashtag "#resign."

Mayor Brian Bowman

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman says he's shocked a Canadian senator could be "so incredibly ignorant." (Gary Solilak/CBC)

In an open letter published on Beyak's website, the senator suggested Indigenous Canadians exchange their status for citizenship.

"Trade your status card for a Canadian citizenship, with a fair and negotiated payout to each Indigenous man, woman and child in Canada, to settle all the outstanding land claims and treaties, and move forward together just like the leaders already do in Ottawa," Beyak wrote in the letter, dated Sept. 1.

Later in the morning, Bowman told reporters gathered at the Manitoba Legislature that Beyak's comments are "terribly damaging" to reconciliation efforts and she should resign.

"The comments should offend all Canadians," Bowman said. "They're comments in this day and age that are not helpful for reconciliation efforts."

Bowman said he is shocked a Canadian senator could be "so incredibly ignorant" about who is and is not a Canadian citizen.

"She clearly needs to be better educated and I hope she gets that education on who Canadian citizens are as well as matters pertaining to our Indigenous community."

The mayor later said he's never called on a public official to resign before.

Beyak is also facing backlash from her own caucus. The Conservative leader in the Senate, Larry Smith, distanced himself from the Tory senator on Thursday and said he's taking steps to address her role in the caucus.

"The personal opinions expressed by Sen. Lynn Beyak do not reflect the positions of the Senate Conservative caucus. Accordingly, we have taken additional steps to address Sen. Beyak's ongoing role within our caucus," Smith said in a statement.

In March, Beyak defended the residential school system in Canada in comments condemned by Sen. Murray Sinclair, the former head of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Mayor wants Senator Lynn Beyak to resign over 'incredibly ignorant' comments1:43

- With files from John Paul Tasker