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Statement - Indigenous Affairs - Thank you for your support

Hon. Lynn Beyak: Honourable senators, I would like to thank each of you who heard my speech here in the Senate on March 7, 2017, on residential schools and offered support from the outset and who cared about my well-being during the unpleasantness that followed.

Even if you disagreed with my perspective, you were kind and thoughtful, as has been my experience in the Senate of Canada on all issues. I want to briefly tell you about the past two months and the positive response to free speech that I have received from across the country.

I discovered that many people who actually read my remarks sent an avalanche of support from across our great nation. It began with a highly respected journalist and soon included indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians from every walk of life, including historians, scholars, judges, teachers, academics, chiefs, elders, shamans, nurses, clergy, law enforcement, government workers and many others.

They wrote incredible letters of support, newsletters and articles of support for free speech and for my true statements, taken directly from residential school documents and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report itself, confirming the good with the bad.

Recently a colleague from the independent caucus sent me a Vancouver Sun article that contained an interview with Chief Robert Joseph, who I had pleasure to greet in my office with his daughter Shelley last month. What a wise and wonderful family. We discussed the residential schools and moving forward together.

The Vancouver Sun article also points out that residential schools are a small part of the challenges facing indigenous people in Canada. It goes on to note that as more facts are revealed, a small minority found the schools bad, a small minority found them good. The vast majority of the nearly 900,000 indigenous Christians in Canada referenced in the article, according to the census, took the good with the bad and moved on with their lives.

In conclusion, I would like to read a sentence from the preface of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report of 2015.

Many students have positive memories of their experiences of residential schools and acknowledge the skills they acquired, the beneficial impacts of the recreational and sporting activities in which they engaged, and the friendships they made.

The report was signed by Chief Wilton Littlechild, Dr. Marie Wilson and Murray Sinclair. We need to address the hurt and anger and move forward in compassion, forgiveness, good faith, hope and love.