When retired RCMP sergeant Bruce Pitt-Payne first saw a post on the RCMP Veterans’ Association website called “My Canada – is it Your Canada?” he said he thought it would be about not burning down churches and stopping vandalism in the wake of unmarked graves found at residential schools across the country.
But then he kept reading.
He said he became alarmed at the “absolute gross misrepresentation” of what the residential schools were meant to do to Indigenous communities in Canada.
“It was minimized to being institutions of education as opposed to the oppression that came out in Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” he said. “I was extremely offended by phrases such as get on with life and stop dwelling on it.”
Pitt-Payne spent 26 years with the RCMP, retiring just four years ago. He said he doesn’t know if the post is an accurate representation of the sentiments held by veterans’ association members.
“I’m not sure about that,” he said, “But I think people should at least get an answer from the vets’ association as to why they have this reoccurring theme of alternate history.”
He sent the post to APTN News after many of the comments posted under the editorial seemed to be supporting the views found there.
“I don’t know if it’s coincidence but after APTN’s initial report on this, the views changed,” he said. “I don’t know if they were officers or members of the public but they became very critical of the veterans’ association and what the article wrote.”
“I saw it shift and I saw that as a positive.” he added. “I think that is the issue here. We need to hear from this association that represents and is speaking for hundreds and hundreds of retired RCMP members.”
Watch reaction from SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels:
APTN reached out to the association but we haven’t heard back. The post was denounced by Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s office and Southern Chiefs Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels.
“It’s incredible to watch the number of people telling us to just ‘move on’ from residential schools, as though we aren’t still living the trauma and negative effects every single day,” said Daniels in a Monday press release.
“I can think of no greater privilege, or heartbreak, than being able to watch the discovery of over a thousand children’s bodies and then think it’s something that people can simply move on from.”
Pitt-Payne pointed out that the association is a relatively new organization and members would have been supervisors and mentors to those members still working in the field.
“If they have this point of view I think it speaks loudly to the fact that there is systemic racism in the RCMP and I think this should be dealt with quickly.”