APTN National News
In a letter published on her website earlier this month, Ontario Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak refused to back down from controversial comments she made in April.
Back then she said “some good” had come out of residential schools.
As a result, interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose dropped Beyak from the Senate’s committee on Aboriginal Peoples.
The letter dated September 1 is in response to the federal government’s decision to split the Department of Indigenous Affairs into two separate ministries.
But Beyak used the occasion to defend her previous comments on residential schools, saying many people had shown support for her position.
“A small number of aboriginals found the schools bad and a slightly smaller number found them good,” she wrote in the letter. “Only one in three Indigenous children ever attended them.
“Very few were torn from their parent’s arms, but rather were enrolled by loving parents who were away trapping and trading for months on end, and who wanted to prepare their children for the future.”
Beyak went on to say that the Indian Act was holding back Indigenous people.
And that the 1969 white paper, which advocated assimilation into non-Indigenous society, “got it right.”
“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,” she said.
“All Canadians are then free to preserve their cultures in their own communities, on their own time, with their own dime.”
Beyak also commented that the recent talk about removing John A. Macdonald’s name from schools and monuments is misguided.
“Sir John A. Macdonald’s role in the founding of Canada is significant. There is no need for a divisive debate on monuments and statues, or buildings and bridges when valuable tax dollars could be used to provide clean water and decent housing instead.”
Several people condemned her comments.
“Senator Lynn Beyak is a paid right wing troll,” NDP leadership candidate Charlie Angus posted on social media.
“She was appointed to the Senate by Harper where she lives off the salary and benefits of Canadian taxpayers despite having no credibility, competence or fitness for public office. Canadians deserve better.”
Mohawk musician Murray Porter posted:
“(Beyak) suggested that we trade in our status cards for Canadian citizenship cards and accept a payout and rescind our Native status!!’ I suggest that she rescind her ‘lifetime’ status as a senator and become a regular citizen without getting a huge salary for doing nothing!!”
And in a statement to APTN National News, Indigenous-Crown Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said she was disappointed.
“I am deeply disappointed that Senator Lynn Beyak continues to provide these uninformed and simply offensive comments for issues which she clearly doesn’t understand,” she said in the statement.
“What is also worrying is that she still won’t admit she has a lot to learn. Once again we suggest she sit down and listen to some of the survivors of residential schools. They have a great deal to teach her.”
Multiple attempts by APTN to contact Senator Beyak went unanswered.
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