Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s speechwriter as soon as wrote an article dismissing the “bogus genocide story” of Canada’s residential college system and stated Indigenous youth might be “ripe recruits” for violent insurgencies.
Paul Bunner penned the column, titled “The ‘Genocide’ That Failed,” for the net journal C2C Journal in 2013. Brunner was a speechwriter for prime minister Stephen Harper from 2006 to 2009 and was employed by Kenney final spring.
The article questioned what Bunner deemed the “unchallenged” view of residential colleges.
“Huge swathes of the general public schooling system are uncritically regurgitating the genocide story as if it had been truth,” Bunner wrote, arguing that fuels sure Indigenous activists of their “endless calls for” for cash and autonomy.
Bunner argued that if Indigenous youth are “indoctrinated” within the perception that Canada wilfully tried to annihilate their ancestors it might make them “ripe recruits” for potential violent insurgencies, referring to a novel about an Indigenous rebellion that he stated was “frighteningly believable.”
He inspired folks to query the steadiness of residential college tales, to push again in opposition to “perverse monetary incentives” that “reward tales of abuse” and known as for extra context concerning the common hardships of life at the moment.
In a minimum of one interview since, Bunner has stood by the column.
Greater than 150,000 Indigenous youngsters had been faraway from their households and compelled by the federal government to attend residential colleges over the course of a century.
Many relayed tales of bodily abuse, sexual assault and emotional anguish by the hands of those that ran the faculties. Many of the perpetrators had been by no means prosecuted. The final federally run college closed within the late 1990s.
One of many heads of the federal Fact and Reconciliation Fee that investigated residential colleges from 2007 to 2015 says he is heard these arguments earlier than, however cannot swallow them.
“I actually want he’d walked in my footwear for these 14 years,” stated Chief Willie Littlechild, who was amongst these despatched to a residential college. “I believe you’d have a completely totally different story.”
Littlechild recounted how he was stripped of his identify and given a quantity.
“They known as me 65. You fool, 65. Silly 65.”
He stated he is “insulted” by the arguments in Bunner’s column, however he holds no grudge.
Bunner was Harper’s chief speechwriter when the prime minister made a historic apology within the Home of Commons to residential college survivors.
“There isn’t a place in Canada for the attitudes that impressed the Indian residential colleges system to ever once more prevail,” he stated in 2008.
Bunner has stated he did not write Harper’s speech. He instructed APTN Information in 2015 that he stood by his column and wasn’t pleased with Harper’s apology.
The premier’s workplace declined CBC Information’ request to interview Bunner. Interviews with backroom employees are unusual.
“Mr. Bunner is a speechwriter. He’s employed to take the Authorities’s coverage and put it into phrases. Mr. Bunner isn’t employed as a coverage advisor neither is he concerned in coverage making,” a spokesperson wrote in an e-mail.
“I am going to additionally remind you that the Premier was a senior minister of the federal authorities which issued the apology and settlement. Elected officers set coverage — not employees.”
The Kenney authorities has made a number of efforts to advance partnerships between the province and Indigenous teams since he was elected final 12 months, notably round pure useful resource improvement. The premier known as it an “financial and ethical crucial.”
Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal College in Calgary says the premier’s workplace wants to deal with Bunner’s article. He added it is a blow to Alberta’s efforts to construct belief with Indigenous communities.
“This is not written 30 years in the past. This is not written 20 years in the past. This was written after a public apology.”
Bratt additionally stated that whereas speechwriters do not dictate coverage, they will affect it like another adviser.
Bunner’s column says that not all residential college college students had a foul expertise, and that white youngsters additionally skilled abuse at boarding colleges. He did acknowledge that Indigenous folks endured worse than most.
However he blamed distinguished Indigenous activists for utilizing residential colleges to propagate an “entitlement narrative” that has morphed right into a “gold mine.”
“The bogus genocide story of the Canadian Aboriginal residential colleges system is an insult to all of us, Native and non-Native, useless or alive, who’re justifiably happy with the peaceable, tolerant, pluralistic historical past and values of our nice nation,” the article concludes.
Gabrielle Lindstrom is from the Kainaiwa First Nation in southern Alberta and teaches Indigenous research at Mount Royal College. She wasn’t shocked when she learn the article.
“I’d say that these claims are quite common,” she stated, explaining that she typically sees college college students with related misconceptions.
Lindstrom says this concern isn’t just about one man’s phrases, however generations of stereotypes in opposition to Indigenous folks.
“We have made the abuse of kids debatable and we have made the violence in opposition to Indigenous folks one thing that’s alleged and one thing that’s debatable.”
The Fact and Reconciliation Fee heard from 6,500 witnesses, making a historic database made up of 5 million paperwork. On the finish of its work, the fee launched 94 calls to motion, which had been accepted by the federal authorities.
The fee stated the faculties amounted to cultural genocide, tried to eradicate Aboriginal tradition and to assimilate Aboriginal youngsters into mainstream Canada.
Littlechild nonetheless sees many areas for enchancment — and says he desires to work on that shoulder to shoulder with folks like Bunner.
“When we’ve challenges like this, let’s speak about it and see how we discover a resolution to it,” he stated.
“It might serve [us] a lot larger if we walked that path collectively.”