Senator Lynn Beyak continues to defend comments about residential schools

APTN National News
Senator Lynn Beyak says her removal from the Senate’s Aboriginal Peoples committee for complimenting the work of nurses and teachers who did an “abundance of good” in residential schools is a serious threat against freedom of speech.

“For me to lose my position on the Aboriginal Peoples Committee for complimenting the work of nurses, teachers, foster families and legions of other decent, caring Canadians – along with highlighting inspiring stories spoken by Aboriginal people themselves – is a serious threat to freedom of speech,” said the Conservative senator in a statement Thursday, a day after she was removed on the committee.

Beyak sparked outrage when she spoke in the Senate on March 7 to defend the good work of residential schools that forced over 100,000 Indigenous children into schools where it’s documented many suffered sexual assaults, physical abuse for speaking their language and death.

This is a portion of what Beyak said in the Senate: “I speak partly for the record, but mostly in memory of the kindly and well-intentioned men and women and their descendants — perhaps some of us here in this chamber — whose remarkable works, good deeds and historical tales in the residential schools go unacknowledged for the most part and are overshadowed by negative reports. Obviously, the negative issues must be addressed, but it is unfortunate that they are sometimes magnified and considered more newsworthy than the abundance of good.”

The public outcry was immediate and eventually led to her removal from the committee as Beyak refused to apologize.

But on Thursday, Beyak said she was speaking on behalf of Canadians.

“This is a responsibility I take very seriously,” said Beyak in the statement. “Since the announcement regarding my removal from the Aboriginal Peoples Committee yesterday, public and other support has been building and is truly inspiring. ”

She said “political correctness” is getting in the way of “thoughtful conversation” needed to improve the country.

“Too often, on a broad range of issues, a vocal minority cries foul and offence whenever a point of view is raised that does not align with their own,” said Beyak. “Meanwhile the silent majority, who are contributing to this country by working, building and selling things, taking care of their parents and children, are left thinking they are alone.”

She said she will continue to represent these Canadians on Parliament Hill.

Jake Enwright, a spokesperson for interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, said Wednesday Beyak’s position doesn’t represent the Conservative party.

“Ms. Ambrose has been clear that Sen. Beyak’s views do not reflect the Conservative party’s position on residential schools,” Enwright said.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission spent six years examining the legacy of the government-funded, church-operated schools, infamous hotbeds of abuse and mistreatment that operated from the 1870s to 1996.

The Conservatives were in power in 2008 when the federal government delivered an abject apology in the House of Commons to families and survivors, a fact not lost on Enwright.

“It was Prime Minister Stephen Harper who made an historic apology to the victims of residential schools and launched the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” he said.

Earlier this week, Sen. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, who sits on the Aboriginal People’s committee, said she was, “shocked and dismayed” by her Senate colleague’s remarks.

She said she would boycott the committee’s meetings as long as Beyak remained a member.

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18 thoughts on “Senator Lynn Beyak continues to defend comments about residential schools

  1. I’m not native, but do live/work in the Canadian arctic where I have witnessed the effects of Res-school on many of the community members I know and are friends.
    She should have really thought out what she was going to say and how it might be perceived. She could have followed up by apologizing after her comments instead of trying to defend her comments; maybe by saying,
    ” Hey, really sorry, I’m not the brightest bulb in the pack and should have actually read some history on the subject and actually maybe attended some meetings?? In short, been more sensitive.”
    That could have been a good start; or of course she could have just kept her mouth shut until she sort her thoughts out too??

  2. I’m sure there were some “Schindlers” amoung the residential staff. He was a Nazi who showed compassion and kindness to many Jewish people during the holocost. To whom to this day is celebrated by Jewish people. It doesn’t take away the travesty, only to acknowledge the humanity in most of us. It is humanity to be recognized as this is one of the fundamental ways to begin healing of our first people. I think this was more along the lines in which she was trying to portray. Imo.

  3. What a shame that our political system does not allow a member of our Senate to speak their point of view without fear of removal because it doesn’t match the general consensus. What I read in Lynn Beyak’s comments was that it is time to move forward instead of staying in the past. A great number of Canadians have suffered great losses in their families due to being victims of crime. A great number of Canadians are carrying memories of the Holocaust and what it did to their families. The point is no amount of money will take those memories away. As Canadians we have all been made aware of what went on in the residential schools. A close family member of mine attended a residential school in Manitoba and as a Caucasian experienced his share of racism – there are two sides to every story. It is unfortunate that the media, the politicians and the public choose to focus on one thing – the negative. Time to move forward.

  4. Dumb ass has the freedom of speech, but is also free to experience the consequences of what she says. Saying what she said spat in the faces of all those who suffered. Furthermore, she should have been more conscientious of saying such a statement, she should have been aware of the hurt those words would cause, being in the position she was in. Yet she defends what she said & whines about her freedom of speech, making all of this about her. It is obvious at this point she has learned nothing from this & was severely unworthy of the post she had. With such a point of view, she shouldn’t be in ANY position of authority/influence, there’s no telling what damage she may cause after this.

  5. I am an American Indian that went an Indian Boarding School (Government/Religion). We lived through the indignities of having our head shaved if we dared to run away. Our bodies welted from from whippings from our nun. I will never forget that black hose she used on us. We were just kids – tiny little kids.

  6. I have never heard Senator Beyak say that the good things that happened at residential schools compensated for all the terrible things. She just was trying to point out that good did exist at the schools. It doesn’t seem possible that through all the decades, with all the poeple involved, that absolutely no one did anything positive. The odds are that, as in most human endeavours, there was a mix of good and evil.

  7. This woman made a very serious mistake with her comments. She not only offended many First Nations’ citizens who are left with the hurtful and damaging ripple effects from Residential Schools, she also made it clear that “sober thought” and consideration is not necessarily present with those who are privileged to have a seat in the Red Chamber. Mindfulness is something we expect of these appointed senators; sadly Senator Beyak lacks this attribute, or, she is completely ignorant of the seriousness the issue of Residential Schools,

  8. My father was taken away from his home and sent to residential school even though there was a school close to where our family lived but he wasn’t allowed to attend because he was not white. He remained there for 6 years and wasn’t allowed to return even when his father passed on. He talked to me about it often and he was one of the lucky ones who for the most part received an education and wasn’t abused in any physical or mental form, he however did lament about the time and heritage lost while he was there he was taken from his home at 10 years old and returned on his own after 6 years. Yes he did receive an education and wasn’t one of the children who were scarred for life he did carry resentment howeve. No matter abused or not it is still wrong to try and wipe out a culture by assimilation and well meaning or not these people were wrong and nothing should be said that makes this atrocity in any way ok. This woman should be stripped of her job her pension and anything else she was entitled to as being in support of cultural genocide has no place in our government and she was obviously not qualified for the job in the first place and therefore should not benefit from it.

    1. Agreed. It doesn’t matter whether you had a good time or not at residential schools because the base of the mandate was to “get rid of the ‘Indian’ in the child” its no secret that it was genocidal it says so right in the papers. Some individuals may have been untouched by abuse but entire generations of lost culture and addictions, suicide, and cycles of abuse continues with other victims and survivors, and no matter how many people declare it was good, it is completely useless in resolving social suffering of anybody who had it bad. Saying Residential schools is Good isn’t helpful or useful in any way its been said it’s good for hundreds of years to constantly be used against First Peoples , Beyak knows this and but like most bullies who feel the need to be racist and insensitive without consequence they use “free speech” to protect themselves while they hurt others.

  9. Omg! “Beyak said she was speaking on behalf of Canadians.” She sure as hell doesn’t speak for this Canadian!
    It astounds me how out of touch with reality this woman is! What’s next, praising the unsung Southern Plantation owner for kindly housing and feeding their slaves!?

  10. I personally did not go to residential school, however, my grandchildren are still healing from the trauma my parents were subjected to through their years of residential abuse and miscare, miseducation and hatred. In my house i tried to teach love, the school system is teaching my grandchildren that they are not Caucasian and a lesser class….society is not changing any time soon.

  11. This woman does not comprehend what it means to have free speech. She is free to speak freely on anything she feels, but for every action there is a reaction; It seems that her version of free speech equates to the ability to speak or act in any way she chooses without disagreement or consequence. I think many people in this country lack an accurate definition of free speech. If we are unable to respond with our own thoughts or reactions on her views, then that is the real threat to freedoms. When a person holds one of the highest positions in political office in this country, they are held to the highest standard, because they hold our health, safety, and lives in their hands. I would rather have a representative that makes a mistake but has the ability to recognize it, and correct it without hubris; But when I see our politicians take the opposite route, double down on their mistakes and then raise the pot, we need to have avenues to correct this within the confines of our laws.

  12. I read her speech. She is soft-pedaling what she said. And she is now not telling the truth about what she said. Shame on her. Happy she is off the committee, and if she persists with lies perhaps she should be evicted from the senate too.

    1. It is sad that Senator Beyak has been removed from this committee. She is speaking for people like myself who are wondering why the committee has not completed there findings after all these years. Perhaps it’s time for another investigation to find out what has been happening to our natives since. My 58 yr old daughter was mugged by a native woman at noon two years ago and was fortunate to get away with just a cut cheek. Why aren’t solutions to occurrences like this discussed? What are the answers to these problems?

      1. Why do you care what the race of your daughter’s mugger was? Your daughter was mugged, while hundreds of indigenous women and girls continue to go missing and are murdered. Your daughter is alive, while hundreds of indigenous mothers grieve their murdered daughters. Your comment illustrates how dangerous settlers are. By the way I am a settler.

  13. “Freedom of speech” and “political correctness” are not the reasons Senator Beyak is no longer on the committee. It is her lack of knowledge about the subject matter this committee addresses. Freedom of speech means I can say a dollar is 50 cents, it doesn’t guarantee me a position on a Senate budget committee to say it. If she truly took her responsibility as a Senator seriously she would not suggest she needs “no further education” on this subject or any other. Our elected and appointed representatives in Ottawa are there to listen to us. Learning from your constituents is a process that should have no end.

    Senator Beyak does not speak for me.

  14. We note that Senator Nicholas who refuses to sit on the committee is a Liberal party member and an Aboriginal.
    What many of us understand from Senator Beyak’s remarks is simply this.
    Every single person who attended a residential school was NOT abused.
    Judge Murray Sinclair would lead us to believe that all, or the vast majority were greatly abused. There is the dichotomy. Which is it ?
    Over many years I have met people who did attend “off-reserve” schools. Most, that I knew, left the reserve system permanently. In many cases the education they received enabled them to get jobs.
    Any person that I have met who attended schools, or “boarding schools” did not usually like to be away from home. Especially those in Scotland.

  15. Kind people. She forgot the abusers. N murders. Including the. Church all the way to rhe top.

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