The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council’s (CSTC) Tribal Chief Terry Teegee calls for the resignation of the Hon. Lynn Beyak as a member of the Senate of Canada following repeated statements by the Senator defending the Indian Residential School system.
Even though Senator Beyak has traced her origins to northwestern Ontario, a region with deep racial divides, and has mentioned her previous proximity with First Nations she cannot directly know the pain and suffering endured over generations despite her assertions. Her position in the highest levels of government is being used as a platform to express and spread misguided information about Indigenous peoples. She has publicly refused to meet with experts to be educated on this issue and, to this day, has refused to step down from her position as a member of the Senate of Canada despite the upswell of voices demanding action. It is clear that Senator Beyak refuses to accept responsibility for the welfare of all of her constituents, and more widely, the many vulnerable peoples within Canada’s jurisdiction.
The Government of Canada has recognized that “the policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.” This great harm will continue to impact Canada’s Indigenous people, and Canadian society, far into the future. Senator Beyak has been dismissive of this fact with her comments and we cannot trust her to work in the best interests of First Nations. Even though she has been removed from The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples her lack of knowledge and compassion will have wide reaching impacts in other areas of Canadian politics. If she cannot take the time to learn and understand her constituents, especially when they offer her the opportunity, she cannot adequately represent all those under her jurisdiction and beyond. Her actions and decisions will put at risk the hard work currently underway, advancing reconciliation and the renewal of the nation-to-nation relationship between the governments of Canada and Indigenous peoples.
Tribal Chief Terry Teegee states, “We need politicians and employees at all levels of government to be well-informed, coherent and passionate about the issues affecting the welfare of the people whose very lives are dependent on them. Senator Beyak’s outright refusal to listen to alternate perspectives and only focus on those voices who praise and agree with her demonstrates her political failure and we are seeking her resignation.”
In this region LeJac Residential School was one of 130 boarding schools for First Nations children and was closed in 1976. Generations of Dakelh, Sekani and Gitxsan were forced to attend this school, and within the wall of this toxic place our young people suffered humiliation, pain, sexual abuse, and for some, their journey ended. Currently many Indigenous peoples are dealing with physical and emotional issues resulting from this multigenerational trauma.