First Nation leaders upset with Thunder Bay city council vote on Senator Beyak - APTN NewsAPTN News

First Nation leaders upset with Thunder Bay city council vote on Senator Beyak



Brittany Hobson
APTN National News

Some First Nation leaders in northwestern Ontario are condemning Thunder Bay city council’s refusal to call for the resignation Monday of embattled Sen. Lynn Beyak.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins said the decision was unacceptable.

“It is unconscionable that city council failed to support this call for the resignation of Sen. Lynn Beyak after her insulting and racist comments,” said Fiddler.

The decision comes after the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association (NOMA), a group representing 37 municipalities, put forth a resolution to request Beyak resign as senator following remarks she made earlier this month about First Nations.

Beyak suggested First Nations people should trade in their status cards for Canadian citizenship in an open letter on her website.

During Monday’s city council meeting, Coun. Shelby Ch’ng put forth the resolution to support NOMA’s call for resignation. The resolution didn’t pass with six councillors voting against it, including Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs who told APTN Monday before the meeting that he would vote in favour of the resolution.

“There’s a difference between freedom of speech and ignorance,” said Hobbs, adding Beyak’s comments were “over the top” and “out of line.”

APTN spoke with Hobbs Tuesday morning about his decision to change his vote. Hobbs said he wasn’t aware Beyak was removed from all Senate committees following her comments when he spoke with APTN Monday.

“She’s been censored. She’s been disciplined. I’m a firm believer in progressive discipline,” he said. “I really don’t think its city council’s position to be disciplining people in upper levels of government.”

Hobbs went on to say that Beyak’s comments were well within freedom of speech and it is up to the federal government to punish her.

“I don’t think that we should be wading into disciplinary processes of the Senate, the federal or the provincial governments. There are agencies to take care of that,” said Hobbs.

Fiddler released a statement Tuesday morning saying the decision backtracks on the city’s recent commitment to fight racism.

“Just last month we signed a Statement of Commitment with the City to fight racism and make Thunder Bay a safer, more welcoming place for First Nation people,” he said. “Council’s failure to act is extremely disappointing and goes against the spirit of that commitment.”

Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins echoed NAN’s position.

“The lack of knowledge and understanding demonstrated by some members of city council on these issues is a barrier to the reconciliation we are working so hard to achieve,” said Collins

The city of Thunder Bay and the Thunder Bay police have come under renewed scrutiny over the treatment of Indigenous youth in the last few months. There have been at least three deaths near Thunder Bay waterways in 2017 with the latest body found over the weekend.

NOMA’s president said she was surprised by city council’s decision to vote against the resolution.

“Just because we have that ability here in Canada doesn’t mean we can take our positions and say things that are fundamentally wrong,” said Wendy Landry.

bhobson@aptn.ca

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7 Responses to “First Nation leaders upset with Thunder Bay city council vote on Senator Beyak”

  1. rolom112@hotmail.com'
    Rhoda Moen September 26, 2017 at 8:32 pm #

    SHE obviously speaks for ALL of them….the ‘good ole boys’ club’ lives!!! Primitive minded women also welcome…..

  2. susannad@shaw.ca'
    Susanna Dokkie-McDonald September 27, 2017 at 2:58 am #

    “She’s been censored. She’s been disciplined. I’m a firm believer in progressive discipline,” he said. “I really don’t think its city council’s position to be disciplining people in upper levels of government.”

    Why is it that every level of government first looks to “pass the buck” even in the supreme court of Canada.?!

    • kdandmj2010@live.ca'
      Karen Nystrom September 29, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

      I wonder the same thing. For years now I have had a war of words with Thunder Bay’s mayor Hobbs and only cursory responses from my councillor, Brian McKinnon who is also on the Police Services Board. Our only hope for the future here in Thunder Bay, for ALL of its citizens, is our 2018 election of a much better, more forward and inclusive thinking council!

  3. gayle_herbs@hotmail.com'
    Gail September 27, 2017 at 3:21 am #

    That really infuriates me !!!
    ALL THOSE racists needs to go !
    Where is PMJT in this disgusting matter?!!!

  4. rsmetana@sympatico.cs'
    Rob September 27, 2017 at 7:18 am #

    She said what many think, yes First Nation people are Canadians but look back at the White paper by Trudeau. She is saying let all people be on the same playing field. What happened a 100 years and in the sixties is over. Move on as one Nation, CANADIANS .

  5. valhenry@tbaytel.net'
    chezhank September 28, 2017 at 10:38 am #

    It is sad to read that some First Nation Chiefs want to take away the freedom of opinion that everyone even themselves are entitled to under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in this country.
    Is everyone not entitled to hold the “talking stick”?
    What I find troubling is that Thunder Bay city councillor Shelby Ch’ng brought in the motion to ask council’s support of NOMA’s resolution to ask for the senator’s resignation, as new business. Did she try to get that motion passed by sneaking it in as new business instead of having it on the council agenda prior to the meeting, so the public would know what was to take place at council?
    That would be democratic so it is not surprising that Ch’ng would ask that the Senator resign to silence her….maybe someone should take the “talking stick” away from Ch’ng she has held it too long!

  6. joannehusak123@gmail.com'
    Joe September 28, 2017 at 5:51 pm #

    There was nothing racist about the senator’s comments. She wants equality for everyone and she has a right in this country to say so.