Published April 1, 2017
OTTAWA — Even though it is April Fool’s Day, this story is real.
This past Monday, Conservative Party Senator Lynn Beyak, from northwest Ontario, Canada, told CBC News she doesn’t need any more education about the horrors of the residential school system because she “suffered” alongside Indigenous people who were sent to the institutions.
Residential schools were to Canada what Indian boarding schools were in the United States. The same schools where in both countries Native children were taken from the familial homes, and put in schools where there was documented widespread emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
Beyak contends the good outdid the bad because the children, in some cases, Christians.
Beyak is a member of the Senate’s standing committee on aboriginal people. Some of her senate colleagues are calling for Beyak to resign from the standing committee. She is refusing.
“I made my statements, and I stand by them,” she said. “I think, if you go across Canada, there are shining examples from sea to sea of people who owe their lives to the schools,” she said, while acknowledging that the bad parts of the schools were “horrific.”
“I’ve suffered with them up there. I appreciate their suffering more than they’ll ever know,” she said. “The best way to heal is to move forward together. Not to blame, not to point fingers, not to live in the past.”
Jesse Wente (Ojibwe), a broadcaster from Toronto wants to see Beyak give up her seat on the standing committee that deals with indigenous people.
“The culture that created residential schools, the culture that allows Senator Beyak to think the way she has, and position it the way she has, is what still allows inequality to exist,” Wente says.
“People are still dying because of this inequality in Canada. It should be unacceptable for everyone, let alone a Senator, to really perpetuate these things.”
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