September 18, 2017 (Ottawa, ON) – In response to the racist opinions stated by Senator Lynn Beyak, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is calling for her resignation and removal from the Senate of Canada. NWAC considers Senator Beyak’s recent comments regarding First Nations people and the Indian Act to be directly supportive of cultural genocide and a threat to the distinct rights of Indigenous women.
NWAC President Francyne Joe elaborated on the impact of the Senator’s public statements in relation to NWAC’s work in advocacy, policy, and legislation. “Right now, we are challenging the denial of our rightful place in the nation-to-nation relationship. We are advocating for the decolonization of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples through the restoration of Indigenous women’s equal role in decision-making.”
“Senators are to bring wisdom and conscience to the work of legislating policy within a human rights framework. By silencing our voices at the national level and giving political power to those whose ideas support assimilation and deny our identities, this nation is allowing systemic racism and sexism to continue.”
NWAC took issue with Beyak’s choice to highlight the implied positive aspects of residential schools instead of their horrific legacy through comments made in the Senate during March of 2017. Beyak has also made comments that were especially hurtful to transgender and Two-Spirit Indigenous peoples in Committee.
NWAC has identified the removal of sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act as a priority issue and feels compelled to take action to encourage Beyak’s removal from the Senate. “It is unacceptable for a person who holds such racist opinions to be in a position to exert authority during the work to end sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act through Bill S-3,” confirmed Joe.
“Racist and ignorant perspectives continue to be heard over the marginalized voices of Indigenous women,” concluded Joe. “Indigenous women must be given a more powerful voice at the national level in order to remove systemic barriers to our empowerment.”
For more information, please contact:
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7