STATEMENT – COMMENTS BY SENATOR LYNN BEYAK
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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