Controversial senator says all Canadians free to preserve own culture 'on their own time, with their own dime'

Controversial senator says all Canadians free to preserve own culture 'on their own time, with their own dime'
From CBC - September 13, 2017

After vowing totake the summer months to meet with Indigenous peopleafter a series of controversial remarks, Conservative Sen. Lynn Beyak says she now believesFirst Nations should give up their Indigenous rights and integrate into Canadian society.

"Trade your status card for a Canadian citizenship, with a fair and negotiated payout to each Indigenous man, woman and child in Canada, to settle all the outstanding land claims and treaties, and move forward together just like the leaders already do in Ottawa," she said in an open letter published Sept. 1 on her Senate website.

(Indigenous peopleborn in this countryare Canadian citizens, and were given full voting rights in 1960.)

"None of us are leaving, so let's stop the guilt and blame and find a way to live together and share," she wrote. "All Canadians are then free to preserve their cultures in their own communities, on their own time, with their own dime."

Beyak made headlines in the spring after CBC News first reportedher defence of the Indian residential school system in the Senate. The northwestern Ontario senator later expanded on her remarks before being removed from the Red Chamber's Aboriginal Peoplescommittee by interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose.

The senator, appointed under former prime minister Stephen Harper, also denounced the Liberal government's recent move to split Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada into two separate departments, with one focused on the delivery of services and the other tasked with negotiating treaties, among other initiatives.

Beyaksaid she worried this could simply lead to more bureaucracy and public servants who can do little to fix the ills that afflict many communities.

"No matter how qualified and well intentioned the participants, the last thing we need is another minister, ministry and bureaucracy in Ottawa to address the challenges," she said.

Beyaksaid Indigenous leaders have already assimilated into the mainstream, and so too should the "grassroots."

"The real problem, as identified in letters from the grassroots across the nation, and which no government has had the courage to address, is what they themselves identify as the Indian Act Industry in Ottawa, all living and working together comfortably, huge bureaucracies, massive expense accounts, fully assimilated to the ways of the white and Indigenous worlds, with available 5-star accommodations and business class travel, while the Indigenous population is constantly reminded that integration or assimilation is not good for them," she wrote.

White paper 'ahead of its time,' Beyak said

In revisiting her previous remarks,Beyak said she stood by her claim that history has been far too unkind to the residential school system. "A small number of Aboriginals found the schools bad," she wrote.

"Only 1 in 3 Indigenous children ever attended them. Very few were torn from their parents arms, but rather were enrolled by loving parents who were away trapping and trading for months on end."


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