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Indigenous leaders call for Senator Lynn Beyak's resignation

Two northern Ontario First Nations leaders are calling for the resignation of Senator Lynn Beyak, saying Beyak's repeated comments about residential schools are "offensive" and a "national insult."

Senator's comments on residential schools are 'a national insult' says NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler

Grand Council Treaty 3 Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh said Senator Lynn Beyak's comments on residential school are "offensive and ignorant of the facts in history that our people still struggle with today." (Grand Council Treaty #3)

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Grand Council Treaty 3 Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh are calling for the resignation of Senator Lynn Beyak, saying Beyak's repeated comments about residential schools are "offensive" and a "national insult."

"Her callous dismissal of the horrors of the Residential School experience is unbefitting a member of the Senate," Fiddler was quoted as saying in a news release issued Tuesday.

"Her misguided statements, including comparisons of her suffering to those who were forced to attend residential schools, are an insult to survivors and all the children who were lost," he said.

"This makes a mockery of the Government of Canada's efforts to move toward reconciliation."

Francis Kavanaugh said Beyak's comments were both "offensive" and "ignorant of the facts in history that our people still struggle with today."

"This clearly shows a lack of sensitivity by the senator with respect to the Indian Residential School experience and [we] are requesting that she resign her position immediately," Kavanaugh said in the same written release.

The Assembly of First Nations and other Indigenous leaders have reached out to Beyak since she made her comments — offering to provide further information about the system — but the senator said she doesn't need a history lesson because she has lived in northern Ontario for 40 years.

"I don't need any more education," she said.

I've worked with [Indigenous people], they're my friends, they spoke at my husband's funeral. We all get along great. We want a better future."

Beyak said she has received hundreds of positive remarks after she delivered a speech in which she chastised the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for not "focusing on the good" of the "well-intentioned" institutions.

"There were two sides to every story," she said.

"We have 700 letters, we'll make it a binder, we'll make it all available," she said on Monday. "Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of letters."

Beyak: 'A somewhat different side of the residential school story'

5 years ago
Duration 0:16
Beyak: 'A somewhat different side of the residential school story'

With files from John Paul Tasker

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