Remove Nick Beyak from council to 'promote unity': Chief - APTN NewsAPTN News

Remove Nick Beyak from council to ‘promote unity’: Chief

(Chief Arnold Gardner of Eagle Lake First Nation.)

Kathleen Martens
The chief of the closest First Nation to Dryden, Ont. wants Nick Beyak removed from city council.

Eagle Lake Chief Arnold Gardner said he’s “deeply disappointed” by comments Beyak make about Indigenous people that “promote division.”

“A councillor holding a public position representing the City of Dryden bears a responsibility to promote unity,” Gardner said in a letter he sent to Dryden Mayor Greg Wilson.

The letter was discussed at Monday night’s council meeting in the northwestern Ontario city.

It condemns him supporting the position of his mother – now-independent Sen. Lynn Beyak – that some good came from Canada’s notorious and racist Indian residential school system.

And opinions Nick Beyak himself shared that Indigenous people are unable to feed, clothe and protect themselves.

The letter points to Nick Beyak’s lack of a public mandate.

“Because Coun. Beyak was appointed mid-term and at no time was voted in by the people of Dryden, we expect yourself and your council members to publicly repudiate (Beyak’s) comments,” Gardner said.

“In addition, it is our position that you and your council members expressly have an obligation to remove him from office.”

Nick Beyak is seen second from the left in the back row in this picture of Dryden city council.

Gardner asked for a response by the end of this week, and a meeting with the full council out of respect for their positive relationship to “bring closure to these recent occurrences.”

Nick Beyak was absent from the meeting but left a prepared statement the mayor shared with council.

“The mayor did read a statement from Coun. Beyak which was read into the record,” said Coun. Mary Trist. “Mr. Beyak reiterated that he spoke as a son and not as a councillor.”

Trist, who has spoken out against the Nick Beyaks’ comments, said council cannot remove him as councillor but could ask him to resign.

She said the mayor, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, also spoke about racism, residential schools and freedom of speech.

“He was emotional when he talked about the boy in his school who took his own life,” Trist recalled.

Wilson told council an Indigenous classmate of his in Grade 8 was in foster care and died by suicide.

“It is only decades later that I started to get a faint understanding of the forces behind such tragic events,” he said.

“This kind of result is what happens when people in power try to dictate the lives of others from a distance without understanding or respecting the culture, leadership, economic and social fabric of local communities. Unfortunately, that legacy persists to this day.”

Eagle Lake is an Ojibway community approximately 25 kilometres southwest of Dryden.

Its letter is the latest salvo in a war on words that’s landed the Beyaks in hot water and led to Lynn Beyak’s ouster from the federal Conservative caucus. She remains a senator.

She and her son operate car dealerships in Dryden and Fort Frances. Businesses that are now the target of a boycott by First Nations.

Lynn Beyak is also the subject of an online petition launched by the area tribal government to have her removed from the Senate.

She was widely condemned following a pro-residential school speech last March, and fanned the flames by posting ‘letters of support’ expressing anti-Indigenous sentiments on her Senate website.

She was removed from the Senate’s Aboriginal committee and is now being investigated for potentially violating the Senate’s ethics code.

Gardner wasn’t available for comment.

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11 Responses to “Remove Nick Beyak from council to ‘promote unity’: Chief”

    Jeff Janzen January 18, 2018 at 7:52 pm #

    Perhaps a read of Keith Grant’s editorial in this the January 17th edition of the Dryden Observer would share a different light on the situation. I feel that many of you just hear the word “racist” and are just jumping on the racist bandwagon without even knowing the first thing about the issue. Senator Beyak wasn’t trying to convey that nothing bad came from Residential Schools, but rather despite the tragedies for many, she was trying to simply convey that there were also good experiences and positive life changing events for some attendees. That’s it… that’s all.
    Finally, I have to wonder why is Arnold Gardner calling the shots for a jurisdiction he has nothing to do with?

    Brain January 18, 2018 at 6:23 pm #

    Freedom of speech and ideas are crucial in a democracy. Senator Beyak and Councillor Beyak are both right on.

    blaine January 18, 2018 at 12:50 pm #

    if Arnold Gardner is a tax payer of dryden fine if not shut the hell up
    city council could care less what he whines about

    Ms. Mannon January 17, 2018 at 11:18 pm #

    I second Gerald Landry’s motion and urge others to take up the cause.
    Gardner and his ilk are out-of-line.
    Enough, already.

      Pamela January 18, 2018 at 6:35 pm #

      I agree with Gerald Landry and Ms. Mannon. It’s time to move forward.

    Sharon January 17, 2018 at 8:05 pm #

    Mother and son need to move on with their lives; somewhere where they can’t do any more harm.

    Gerald Landry January 17, 2018 at 4:21 pm #

    I make a Motion that all Hereditary Blood Line Chiefs of First Nations communities in Canada, “Step Down” and allow the Democratic Election of a Chief and Council elected by the community members. Furthermore that all taxpaying citizens of Canada Boycott and cease contributing financially to these anarchies.

    Now we will Test “Freedom of Speech and Expression”.

    ELI BENNETT January 17, 2018 at 11:39 am #

    When you accept office, you no longer get to differentiate between speaking as a public or private citizen. He made those comments while holding office; his comments are those of the office he holds and reflect on the entire council.

    It is now up to council to roundly repudiate his comments *and* the insufficient and cowardly act of attempting to hide his public role behind his private one.

    Peter Symchuk January 17, 2018 at 6:33 am #

    The idea that its ok to support racist views while being on council because it was in his personal life that he responded in support of his mother is ok. Wtf is wrong with these people your still holding racist views you cannot seperate the two.
    Its time for him to resign. No respect for the arrogance from the bayeks.

    Mahara Allbrett January 17, 2018 at 6:31 am #

    This (Mr. Beyak’s viewpoint) is a very unfortunate way of looking at our situation as Indigenous people. It disregards history and the role settlers played in contributing to the situation. Both he and his mother need to be educated but I don’t believe there is a willingness there. Nothing can be taken in by people who think they know everything.

    AD Wilson January 17, 2018 at 12:21 am #

    The Senate cannot provide protection to nor be the vehicle that perpetuates racist attacks against a segment of canadian population. How many times must we face this racist onslaught from MPs, Senators, Civil servants, Govt agents , etc before Canada moves to protect our human, Civil and aboriginal rights?