POLITICS
02/05/2020 16:06 EST

Embattled Senator Says She Never Claimed To Be Métis ‘At Any Time’

The Independent senator faces possible suspension, again.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Sen. Lynn Beyak waits for the Speech from the Throne to being in the Senate in Ottawa on Dec. 5, 2019.

OTTAWA — Independent Sen. Lynn Beyak says she never claimed to be Métis, despite documents suggesting she made that exact assertion during an Indigenous cultural competency training course.

“Media is reporting I am Métis. Métis are a great people but to be clear: I am not now, never was, and never will be Métis,” the northern Ontario MP said in a statement Wednesday.

“I have never claimed to be Métis at any time, in any way, to any one, in my life.”

Beyak was suspended last spring for breaking code of conduct rules by posting racist letters on her Senate website from people supportive of her opinion that residential schools elicited positive outcomes for some students. 

Watch: Names of children who died in residential schools released during solemn ceremony. Story continues below video.

 

She faces renewed calls to resign after a Senate ethics committee report recommended last week that she be suspended again without pay because members were “not clear” if she met conditions required for her reinstatement.

The ethics report cites concerns about Beyak’s “lack of participation and engagement” in  a cultural sensitivity training course facilitated by the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC).

She attended Indigenous cultural competency training courses in June, but did not successfully complete it, according to the OFIFC instructors. In August, Beyak returned for a subsequent discussion, but was asked to leave after making a series of problematic comments.

“When we attempted to explain the complex intersections between colonisation, dispossession, intergenerational trauma, poverty, and racism, Senator Beyak responded, ‘History has nothing to do with racism. It’s about what your people are doing to your own people.’”

The senator “identified herself as Métis and consistently referred to her identity” throughout the first lesson, reads an OFIFC report sent to Senate Ethics Office Pierre Legault on Oct. 18, 2019. 

The report, written by training coordinator Nicole Meawasige, notes Beyak “explained that her Métis identity resulted from her family’s adoption of an Indigenous child (her adopted sister).”

Senator called training ‘irrelevant’: course coordinator

Meawasige’s summation of Beyak’s participation in the course included an observation of an offhand remark made by the senator, suggesting the training to be “irrelevant because she will be reinstated anyway.”  

The OFIFC did not invite her back for the last two cycles of the three-part course. 

Beyak, a former provincial candidate for the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, was appointed to the Senate in 2013 by former prime minister Stephen Harper. Tory Leader Andrew Scheer removed her from the Conservative caucus in 2018.

Legault proposed in a March report that Beyak issue a formal apology and complete a cultural sensitivity training course as conditions to her reinstatement in the upper chamber. 

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