Beyak engaged in form of 'genocide denial' over residential school comments: advocate - APTN NewsAPTN News

Beyak engaged in form of ‘genocide denial’ over residential school comments: advocate

Kathleen Martens
The former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress says a Canadian senator must be condemned for her controversial comments about Indian residential schools.

“What the senator has engaged in is a form of a genocide denial,” said Bernie Farber, the former CEO of the CJC.

“To deny the pain and the tragedy of what Indigenous people went through at residential schools is outrageous.”

Farber made the comments to Rick Harp, host of APTN National News, Tuesday evening.

He was referring to the controversy surrounding Lynn Beyak, a senator appointed by former prime minister Stephen Harper that was turfed from caucus by new Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer.

Scheer said he booted Beyak last week for refusing to remove racist content from her Senate website. He said the content was in letters of support she posted online backing her positive stance on the notorious schools.

Beyak, of Dryden, Ont., said in a speech last March some good came out of the schools and some of the religious teachers were “well-intentioned.”

She said the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which collected testimony from former students, concentrated on the negatives and “didn’t focus on the good.”

Farber said as an advocate and a Jew he’s seen this kind of denial before.

“I understand very much the pain afterwards where people came along and said, ‘Oh, by the way, that Holocaust of yours? It never happened. Or, if it did, it wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be,’” he said.

“This is just absurd but it gets even more absurd when it’s coming from the mouths of a senator of this country.”

Farber said he thinks the Holocaust and Canada’s former network of residential schools “were both genocides of their own right” that inflicted generations of pain.

“While the numbers were different and the methods were different, they were both genocides of their own kind. Certainly that’s where the similarities are felt,” he said.

Beyak has so far declined to comment to APTN News. But her son Nick Beyak did Tuesday.

“It’s an overreaction…to say she’s racist,” he said via phone. “I challenge anyone to find one comment from Sen. Beyak herself that is racist.”

The Beyaks are facing a potential boycott of the car dealerships they own in Dryden and Fort Frances. Indigenous leaders are also calling on people across Canada to sign an online petition pressuring her to step down from the Senate.

Nick Beyak said the way the party leadership treated his mother is “disgraceful.” He said she posted those letters on her website to spark a conversation about living conditions.

“Her entire motivation is to improve the lives of Indigenous people,” he said.

But the grand chief of Grand Council Treaty 3 said he sees through the senator’s words.

“She was appointed there to give our communities and region a voice in the Senate,” said Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh, whose territory includes most of northwestern Ontario.

“Instead she insults us and perpetuates stereotypes.”

Kavanaugh, in a telephone interview Wednesday, said he’s sent several letters to Beyak over the past few months about her “lack of judgement.”

But she hasn’t responded.

That’s why he says Treaty 3 joined with area tribal government Nishnawbe Aski Nation to spearhead the petition against Beyak earlier this week.

“The failure to have parliament or the government remove her shows systemic racism,” he said.

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13 Responses to “Beyak engaged in form of ‘genocide denial’ over residential school comments: advocate”

    Bill January 13, 2018 at 10:51 pm #

    Wow there are sure a lot of ignorant people who need to read history regarding residential schools

    duffy wemigwans January 12, 2018 at 4:19 pm #

    Obviously, “Pamela”, and many people are not educated about the history of this country we call Canada. First Nation children were forcibly removed from their homes by government “officials”. There is not an exact number of children who died at these residential schools but it was in the thousands upon thousands. You might as well have put them in gas chambers. The intent of the government was to get rid of the Indian by any means possible, even death. If this is not genocide I don’t know what is. The children were experimented on continuously physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. To this day this has caused an inter-generational trauma of negative proportions. In this day and time, “I” believe we are still not looked at as Human beings by the people in power and people like “Beyak” and “Pamela”. The people in power are all wealthy people and will do anything to stay in power. When they feel threatened they will just draft up another piece of paper and make it appear they our on our side. We are Strong Nations and will never go away. We were here first and way things are going around the world we will be the last. Zoongdeh Dou. Ajiijaak-Dodem

      Joe January 15, 2018 at 3:24 pm #

      And many were taken and dropped off by their parents who wanted them in school. Let’s explore both sides of the story. That’s what is needed to make educated choices and decisions going forward.

      Pamela January 18, 2018 at 6:21 pm #

      Wow. I think you are confusing Residential schools with Natzi gas chambers. British children were also sent to these residential schools. Bad things happen in life but you move on from it.
      As for being here first.. there was “first” people in every other country. None of them ‘owned’ the land. What issues do Greece, Italy, Scotland, Norway, Holland and on and on have with ‘first’ people?? I await your answer.

    Rhoda January 12, 2018 at 4:52 am #

    What an insult to Haulocaust survivors.

    Phillip morin January 12, 2018 at 4:48 am #

    How would both of you like it if you knew all your grandparents incuding that of your friends were taken away from their families and sent to a school where they would be raped, die of sickness and disease and beaten in hopes their cultures and ways of life would leave them forever. Residential schools destroyed an entire generation. Sending broken survivors home to become parents and many turned to alcohol to hide their shame. A shame inflicted by the church and government of Canada. The teachers, nuns and priests are all guilty for taking part..nothing good came out of residential schools and for 2 privileged white people to defend this senator. Just shows the lies you believe.

    Pamela January 12, 2018 at 1:27 am #

    Genocide???? Really? That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. No First Nation child was ever sent to a gas chamber!!! Get a grip.

      Rhoda January 12, 2018 at 4:51 am #

      What an insult to Haulocaust survivors.

      Darral January 12, 2018 at 4:32 pm #

      They are talking about blankets-starvation- mass shootings-murderers-Ect ,.don’t be dumb

      Heather Dawe January 12, 2018 at 6:36 pm #

      The United Nations has a definition for cultural genecide look it up. Canada has done every item on the list to the first peoples of Canada. Again if you want to learn more Coursera has 2 wonderful free programs Indigenous Canada and Aboriginal worldviews. You’re constant shock about the Indigenous and Canadian issues can be answered by these two courses. I know that Canadian Public Education failed to teach us the truth in school so now the learning is on us. Please check these out it will bring clarity to you.

      alberta canada January 13, 2018 at 3:02 pm #

      Stupid reflection on your part! the gas chamber for some would have been sweeter than the treatments they had been subjected to for years without counting the many mass graves of children discovered! These were perpetrated by religious!You do not know anything about history!

    Pamela January 12, 2018 at 1:23 am #

    She did nothing of the sort. We need more people like Lynn who are not afraid to start a debate and get different points of view.

      Bill January 13, 2018 at 10:49 pm #

      We have enough racists in Canada we don’t need anymore especially one paid by tax payers