After hearing testimony about the atrocities committed in residential schools, Senator Lynn Beyak asked survivors at the Senate’s Aboriginal peoples committee Wednesday what they thought about her plan for a national audit on all First Nations spending.
Beyak asked John Morrisseau and Doris Young, two elderly Indigenous people who faced abuse in school, if they thought it was appropriate to be spending money on renaming buildings, like Ottawa’s Langevin Block, named after one of the architects of the residential schools, when there are children on reserve without clean drinking water.
“The speech that caused so much hurt and distress was actually a speech about taxes,” Beyak said of the remarks she delivered in the Red Chamber when she defended the institutions as well-intentioned.
‘I want to thank Senator Beyak for clarifying that her speech was really only about taxes and that therefore nothing else was to be taken seriously.’
– Senator Murray Sinclair
In fact, little of her initial speech was devoted to the subject of taxes, but rather a recounting of the “good deeds” committed by religous teachers who “didn’t mean to hurt anybody.”
(According to the official Hansard transcript of her speech in the Senate, Beyak said the word “tax” or “taxpayer” only twice in a nearly 20-minute speech. The full text of her remarks is available here.)
“That’s my mission here in the Senate, the wise use of tax dollars,” Beyak continued. “It seems like our priority is skewed so I have asked for a national audit of all dollars coming in and out of all reserves.”
The survivors, who had only just finished delivering emotional testimony about their experiences, seemed befuddled by the question.
“I’m not sure how to respond,” Young said. “Talking about tax dollars, I don’t know.” The woman, a teacher who lives near The Pas in Manitoba, said politicians have long perpetuated the myth that First Nations people don’t pay tax.
“When you start talking…