September 15, 2017

“Senator Beyak’s comments don’t reflect the views of the Conservative Caucus in the Senate.

I, personally, am also skeptical about the added layer of bureaucracy that I fear the INAC split will create; I hope that this doesn’t lead to a backlog of issues that need to be dealt with.

However, I want to make it clear that I know full-well the negative and legacy impacts that residential schools have had on Inuit.  It is because I understand the lasting effects of residential schools that I worked to close residential schools and replace them with K-12 schools in every community when I was Minister of Education in the NWT.  That effort was in response to recommendations from the Special Committee on Education report, “Learning, Tradition, and Change”, which I was privileged to also be a part of.

The percentage of Inuit who attended residential schools was very high, due to an absence of alternative schooling options.  By June of 1964, 75% of Inuit children between the ages of 6 and 15 years old, were in residential school.  Senator Beyak is, therefore, wrong in her assertion that only 1 in 3 Aboriginal children were affected.

As for trading in your status card (or, in the case of Inuit, your beneficiary card) for a Canadian citizenship, I would like to quote the late Jose Kusugak who described Inuit as, ‘First Canadians, Canadians First’.  Inuit have always been known as loyal Canadian citizens.  I respect and celebrate Inuit culture and the diversity that makes Canada so unique.”

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Claudine Santos

Director of Parliamentary Affairs

Office of Senator Dennis Patterson




Public Statement – Comments by Senator Lynn Beyak