Invitation over Beyak’s remarks that residential school teachers were ‘well-intentioned’
CBC News Posted: Mar 10, 2017 6:00 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 10, 2017 11:26 AM ET
A residential school survivor from northwestern Ontario is hoping to meet with Senator Lynn Beyak after she defended the residential school system on Thursday.
Garnet Angeconeb is from Lac Seul First Nation, and was sent to Pelican Falls Residential School, near Sioux Lookout, when he was young.
Speaking to CBC Thunder Bay on Thursday, he said he was “surprised, somewhat taken off-guard, to learn that this kind of opinion or viewpoint still exists in the chambers of the government in Ottawa.”
On Wednesday, Beyak attempted to defend the residential school system during a Senate meeting, saying that “well-intentioned” religious teachers in the schools had performed “good deeds,” but they were overshadowed by negative reports from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
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“Really, I was disappointed,” Angeconeb said. “Especially coming from that level of government, with all the work that the government has done to redress issues stemming from the residential school legacy.”
“Having said that, it’s just a reminder that there’s a lot of awareness to do out there.”
Angeconeb also noted that Beyak was appointed by the Conservative government, and it was Prime Minister Stephen Harper who formally apologized to residential school survivors, their families and communities in 2008.
“That particular government of the day, they did a lot of work,” Angeconeb said. “And it is surprising that, today, that a senator would go that far and really undermine the good work that has been done to date.”
Hoping to meet
Angeconeb has reached out to Beyak, in a letter he said he sent Wednesday, in hopes of meeting with the senator to discuss residential schools and their legacies.
“I have invited her to meet with survivors and to meet other people connected to the residential school system,” he said. “That includes possibly involving the churches, and to enter into a meaningful dialogue.”
“Again, it’s part of the process of creating awareness, and I’m hopeful that she will respond in a good way.”