Senator Lynn Beyak Defends Residential Schools, Sits on Aboriginal Committee

Senator Lynn Beyak Defends Residential Schools, Sits on Aboriginal Committee

Conservative Senator Lynn Beyak mounted a defence of the residential school system for Aboriginal children in the Red Chamber Tuesday, lamenting that the "good deeds" accomplished by "well-intentioned" religious teachers have been overshadowed by negative reports documented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"I speak partly for the record, but mostly in memory of the kindly and well-intentioned men and women and their descendants — perhaps some of us here in this chamber — whose remarkable works, good deeds and historical tales in the residential schools go unacknowledged for the most part," she said.

The commission, which conducted an exhaustive six-year study of the system, found physical, mental and sexual abuse was rampant, and some 6,000 children died while in care because of malnourishment or disease.

Beyak, an Ontario senator, appointed by former prime minister Stephen Harper in 2013, said she has spoken to Indigenous people who have told her of the positive experiences they had while at the schools, adding many have kept their Christian faith after it was imparted to them by school administrators.

"Mistakes were made at residential schools — in many instances, horrible mistakes that overshadowed some good things that also happened at those schools," she said, rising to speak on Senator Kim Pate's inquiry on the over-representation of Indigenous women in Canadian prisons, a topic Beyak largely ignored in her lengthy speech.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/residential-school-system-well-intentioned-conservative-senator-1.4015115

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