Nunatsiaq Online
LETTERS: Around the Arctic April 18, 2017 - 10:00 am

Lynn Beyak should leave the Senate

“Her statements and her misguided views further denigrate the role of the Senate”

Murray Sinclair, then the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, speaking at the release of the TRC's summary report June 2, 2015 in Ottawa. In the speech, Sinclair said “what took place in residential schools amounts to nothing short of cultural genocide,” provoking a long, loud round of applause from this audience. (FILE PHOTO)
Murray Sinclair, then the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, speaking at the release of the TRC's summary report June 2, 2015 in Ottawa. In the speech, Sinclair said “what took place in residential schools amounts to nothing short of cultural genocide,” provoking a long, loud round of applause from this audience. (FILE PHOTO)

The comments from Sen. Lynn Beyak in recent weeks that take issue with the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are nothing short of a despicable, disgraceful attempt to defend the indefensible.

All senators, and in particular the Conservative party, should consider Beyak’s comments as an act that shames the Senate. It shames all those in public life. Her statements and her misguided views further denigrate the role of the Senate and she puts its utility as a “chamber of sober second thought,” into disrepute.

Sen. Beyak observed that the thinking behind the creation of Indian residential schools was “well-intentioned.”

If Lynn Beyak had read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report and its calls to action, she would know that the philosophy behind the Indian residential schools was one of assimilation. The government of the day felt they had to “kill the Indian in the child” and they colluded with the churches to set about establishing residential schools to do just that. 

They took children away from their communities, their families, their language and their culture and imposed a set of foreign values on them.  Children weren’t allowed to speak their language: “the language of the devil,” children were told. 

The TRC called this cultural genocide.  The atrocities that took place would be considered a form of terrorism today.  Indeed some 6,000 who were taken from their home at the hands of the government and the churches, never returned home again. 

Other children were used as human guinea pigs in experiments relating to malnutrition. This was a very black, dark era. It is one that forever defaces a country that has always prided itself at home and abroad on fairness and equality. 

Now, under no circumstances would I compare the Holocaust and the Indian Residential Schools with each other. 

However, if someone were to say that Hitler’s treatment of those of Jewish faith, was “well-intentioned and that the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust, overshadowed the good things,” one would certainly be accused of anti-Semitism and be subject to inciting hatred under s. 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada, and rightly so.

While I fully believe in free speech, I for one feel that the views put forward by Sen. Beyak borders on inciting hatred. There is no place for that in Canada. There should certainly be no place on a Senate committee on Indigenous peoples for someone with views that I can only describe as a glaring example of the alt-right.

Senator Beyak needs to apologize for her comments about Indian residential schools and she needs to take a permanent leave from the Senate thereby doing her part to preserve its integrity as a Canadian democratic institution.

William H. Flowers
Amherst, N.S.

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(23) Comments:

#1. Posted by Aksu on April 18, 2017

I agree 100%

These comments by Senator Beyak are wildly and insufferably ignorant, and the Senate is absolutely debased by them. It is sad indeed that the upper house, ostensibly the home to the elders and wise persons of our land, is populated with such a mindless twit, and undoubtedly a few others like her.

#2. Posted by Mission to snuff out free speech ???? on April 18, 2017

Well Mr. Flowers social engineers will be proud of you with your letter. As you go snow-flaking around, saying you fully believe in free speech while saying all of their “right” words. 

“Alt-right, Hitler, inciting hatred, no place in a Senate committee, Holocaust, inciting hatred, particular the conservative party and the T….. word.”

Are you are on a mission to snuff out free speech to anyone who has a different view then you? Pushing to the extreme, while putting your fingers into your ears and saying laalalalala then hear other points of view then yours. If you do hear them, you want them gone… never to be heard from again.  As in muzzling thought, ideas, free speech. 

Instead of your far-left, end free speech, we must hear all and discuss it. Even if you disagree or disgust you.  That is free speech.  Not locking a person in jail over speech because you disagree. So there is no need for Senator Beyak, to permanently leave the Senate as you call for Mr. William H. Flower.

#3. Posted by Tutalik on April 18, 2017

My experience of residential school was very good, and before we went
to Stringer Hall in Inuvik a rep from the Anglican Church came to our
camp in the central Arctic and explained it all.
I remember him telling my parents we did not have to go.
At that time I did not realize very small children were being sent as well.
Some of my new friends were very glad to be at Inuvik because of
sexual abuse and cruel treatment from their own families.
My father and mother told that some of the Scots and Irish who
worked for the H.B.C. told people to keep their children at home,and
that religion was false and was created to control people.
What a world!

#4. Posted by Moe Hawk Quebec. on April 18, 2017

#3 Tutalik
It is good that you were given a choice about Residential School,so
many were not.
Over the years I and many other Canadian native people have come
to realize that a lot of our problems come from the corruption and greed
of our own native leadership. If we don’t do something about it no one
else will.
It is up to us

#5. Posted by Aksu on April 18, 2017

#2 The principle of free speech doesn’t insulate nor protect you from criticism when you say something ridiculous, or even something libellous, or even something that is just plain dumb. You are still going to get called out on that.

#6. Posted by City boy on April 18, 2017

I agree Senator Beyak should have been a bit more diplomatic.
I know I am not being politically correct, but shouldn’t the ESKIMO,
and the INDIAN be politically correct also?
I gave no one permission to call me WHITEMAN?
Why are so many Inuit and First Nations leaders and organizations
not helping their own people?

#7. Posted by JL on April 18, 2017

typical, as long as your views are the same as mine, go ahead and express them. As soon as someone’s view are not the same narrative you put forward, they should be censored.

if this is your viewpoint, then you sir, might be a facist

#8. Posted by Alt-right speech on April 18, 2017

@2: if you want to disguise yourself as a someone who isn’t from the alt-right, don’t use code words like “snowflake”. And I’ll save you the trouble of calling me a cuck or tasting my liberal tears.

Despite the fact that Beyak rhetoric is incredibly foolish, she represents a very real part of Canada that is extremely racist. If we force her put of the Senate instead of fighting her head on, then we continue to sweep race issues under the rug. Just because Trudeau is PM doesn’t mean everything is A-OK. Even in Nunavut, you’ll meet plenty of roughnecks who’ll turn vile as soon as the Inuk or black person leaves the room. Don’t let these fools off the hook—educate yourself and confront them.

#9. Posted by Lance on April 18, 2017

Thank you, #3. Many of us had similar experiences.

#10. Posted by Aksu on April 18, 2017

#6 In the future please think before you talk. Please?

#11. Posted by City boy on April 18, 2017

# 10 Aksu
If possible please explain what you are trying say?
I wish no racism in Canada
I wish native leaders would help their people more. Mindless twits!
Nothing wrong with that surely?

#12. Posted by What a World! on April 18, 2017

The issue is that the senator has spoken to people like #3 and #9, who have real and valid stories to tell, but she has overstated the importance of those stories in the grand scheme of things and has been so callous and tone deaf about the whole thing that it’s hard not to think she has another agenda.

The problem with the letter writer and the many who want to pillory the senator is that they won’t acknowledge her point at all. They need to say, “yes senator, some people did have experiences as you describe - that’s not the problem. The problem is the many others who had horrific experiences…”

If you don’t start there you have left the realm of reasoned discourse and you are pushing an orthodoxy that you expect others to internalize without question.

#13. Posted by Aksu on April 18, 2017

#11 I am referring to this:

“I know I am not being politically correct, but shouldn’t the ESKIMO, and the INDIAN be politically correct also?
I gave no one permission to call me WHITEMAN?”

What does this even mean man? It’s just gibberish.

#14. Posted by Marc S on April 18, 2017

Ms Beyak has spoken quite freely.  Free speech rights do not guarantee a platform.  Im free to say a dollar is 50 cents. Doesnt mean I belong on a Senate Budget Committee.  Of course people had postive experiences in boarding schools. Those wbo had horrible experiences still tried to make the best of it.  There is nothing wrong with saying tbat. But thats not ehat Ms Beyak said. She said it was a positive experience from ‘sea to sea’. She said she knows what she is talking about because she double dated with ‘an Aboriginal fellow’ when she was 15.  She also said she needs to further education. That is unacceptable for someone in her position (on any issue, not just Aboriginal issues) The job is to learn from and represent your constiuents.  Ms Beyak lowers the credibility of the Senate with her presence.

#15. Posted by Rossi on April 18, 2017

You have made about 5 comments without saying anything.
Quit the gibberish and get with the program!

#16. Posted by Caledon on April 19, 2017

I am sure everyone who went to Residential school has their story to
tell, some heavenly,some hellish, and all sorts in between.
I have met a dentist and a military who credit Res. school for their success, and alcoholics and drug addicts who blame Res. school
for all their misery.

#17. Posted by Possibility on April 19, 2017

Query to #8.
I agree with what you say, but you forgot to mention that Inuit and black
people can be as racist as any other.
Any person in Canada can bring charges of racism by calling the
So the choice is yours.

#18. Posted by NO on April 19, 2017

Free Speech is a right for everyone, so don’t get all offended if it not what you want to hear or its stupid everyone has the right to free speech no matter what.

Do you believe the people who set up the schools were trying to help or just pure evil.

There is racism towards white people, if you like to admit it or not.

#19. Posted by Mission to snuff out free speech ???? on April 19, 2017

That’s right #5 free speech opens up a dialogue of discussion. You can acknowledge someones right without supporting them. If you disagree with someone doesn’t give you the right to silence them. What the letter writer above seemed to want - to silence.

The letter writer above writes; “fully believe in free speech”, but goes on to say “inciting hatred”, thus writer demands silence.  But there is no threat, or violence or to harm. So they have the same right as you to state their view point. 

You can’t say you support free speech while selectively wanting enforcement, silence of speech you disagree with.  Government will be happy to set in place for you be controlled by militant thought police to strip your free speech, a human right away.

We must be on guard, as Canada is stripping Free Speech away. Totalitarianism Regimes, free speech is the first thing taken away. Then you cannot protest anything.

#20. Posted by curious on April 19, 2017

Still no comment from Dennis Patterson, the Senator from Vancouver?

#21. Posted by Emuk on April 19, 2017

Don’t tell me you are actually expecting a reply or comment from the
senator from Vancouver?
Who can blame him, all he has to do is sit on his donkey, smiling and
collecting a big salary, like so many Nunavut leaders and politicians.
It is our fault, year after year, we let them away with it

#22. Posted by no choice and no voice on April 20, 2017

Many commenters are too young and inexperienced in life of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s to make sense of residential school and have never been touched by the affect.  Like the changing of what the word “wicked” means from long ago which is evil, to now which is used to mean what is good.

Free speech is too loosely used these days in government.  A representative who slights the realities of trauma to those represented is a wolf in sheep clothing.

#23. Posted by monty sling on April 25, 2017

why her only? might as well abolish the red house…i don’t believe in non-elected ppl having a say what I and my elected government want out of canada. these senators appears to be very sad old folks, power hungry and so forth, just look at the old guy from north western territory.

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