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Blackfoot Confederacy calls for Jason Kenney to fire speechwriter

The Blackfoot Confederacy is the latest group of Indigenous Albertans calling for the firing of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's speechwriter after a 2013 column resurfaced that called residential schools a "bogus genocide story."

Alberta First Nations members from Treaty Six also called for Paul Bunner's resignation last week

Blood Tribe/Kainai First Nation Chief Roy Fox, right, said Thursday that he was calling for the firing of Paul Bunner, left, a speechwriter for Premier Jason Kenney. (LinkedIn/CBC News)

The Blackfoot Confederacy is the latest group of Indigenous Albertans calling for the firing of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's speechwriter after a 2013 column resurfaced that called residential schools a "bogus genocide story."

"We call upon the province to make the right decision and dismiss this person," said Blood Tribe/Kainai First Nation Chief Roy Fox in a statement.

"Some of our residential school survivors and their multi-generational families continue to be blamed by others as a result of their experiences as victims, and these misguided statements by governments only encourages continued racism against Indigenous people."

The Blackfoot Confederacy includes the Siksika, Kainai and Piikani Nations, representing more than 23,000 members in Alberta and another 19,000 in the state of Montana.

Bunner has been under fire for the past week after a series of articles and columns written from the late 1990s to 2016 resurfaced.

His article from 2013 called residential schools a "bogus genocide story" and said Indigenous youth could be "ripe recruits" for violent insurgencies. In another article, he called homosexuality "socially destructive."

"Bunner's views on residential schools are offensive, dehumanizing and has hurt our Treaty relationship," said Eugene Creighton, a Blackfoot community member, in a release. "These stereotypes of First Nations fuel systemic racism that we're struggling with in Treaty No. 7, Alberta and Canada.

"If Bunner's views have changed, he needs to demonstrate that."

Bunner was a speechwriter for prime minister Stephen Harper from 2006 to 2009 and was hired by Kenney last spring. In a statement provided to CBC News on Friday, a spokesperson said that Bunner's views had evolved over time.

When asked for comment on the new comments from the Blackfoot Confederacy, a spokesperson for the premier's office referred to the statement provided on Friday.

Treaty Six

On Friday, the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations also called for Bunner's resignation, writing that Bunner "does not have the ability to see past his own privilege and prejudice to apologize for insulting our Indian residential school survivors and their children."

"Any government with an interest in building trust with Indigenous communities must hold their employees accountable for blatantly discriminating against Indigenous peoples, especially when working to achieve reconciliation," read the statement from members of Treaty Six.

Other Alberta Indigenous leaders, including Marlene Poitras, the regional chief in Alberta for the Assembly of First Nations, have also called for Bunner's resignation.

"The premier should take heed of the calls for his resignation and release him immediately," Poitras told CBC News on Saturday.

With files from Elise von Scheel

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