FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(June 30, 2020, Fort McMurray, AB) – Recent articles involving Premier Kenney’s speechwriter, Paul Bunner, bringing to light his history of opinions on the Indigenous people and the residential school system should concern all Albertans. The facts of the oppression suffered by the Indigenous peoples of Canada have been well documented by the Government of Canada through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. International organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN Human Rights Committee have all called on Canada to make fundamental changes to laws and policies concerning the treatment of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The history of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples is not a debate, it is a fact, and must be treated as such by all levels of government if we are to move forward with reconciliation.
“The first step to solving any problem is admitting there is a problem to begin with,” said Karla Buffalo, CEO of the Athabasca Tribal Council. “The comments by Premier Kenney’s speechwriter Mr. Bunner clearly show a fundamental lack of understanding of the systematic oppression laid against Indigenous people through the atrocities of the residential school system. It is deeply concerning that someone in Mr. Bunner’s position, as a key architect of the messaging distributed by the Government of Alberta, would dispute well-documented facts.”
Bunner’s opinions outlined in various articles cannot be allowed to influence the direction or shape of communications of the Government of Alberta, no matter how subtle or limited Premier Kenney believes that influence to be. The lived experiences of generations of First Nations who were stripping their families, culture, heritage, and identity is documented fact and cannot be disputed. Further, the atrocities of the residential school system should not be dismissed because others also suffered their own atrocities. This type of argument detracts from the importance of addressing these situations as criminal. All Canadians need to take the steps necessary towards justice and reconcile to never let any of these horrors happen again. The crimes committed by the residential school system and the effects on Indigenous people and culture are still experienced today through the trauma suffered by individuals and the loss of cultural knowledge denied survivors stolen from their communities.
“Without leadership being the embodiment of change, acts of racism and oppression will continue,” said Chief Allan Adam, ATC Board of Director President. “We must hold our leaders and governments to account. Opinions that deny the facts of the systemic Indigenous cultural genocide cannot be allowed to influence governments or leadership, no matter how small.”
The Athabasca Tribal Council will continue to advocate for the end of oppression and racism against Indigenous people.
Athabasca Tribal Council is an organization that serves our First Nations by providing relevant and innovative programs and services that enrich the well-being, health and prosperity of its people. ATC is committed to ensuring the protection of inherent rights, Treaty Rights, and their Traditional Territories while respecting the autonomy of each Nation. For information, visit atcfn.ca.
Chief Executive Officer, Athabasca Tribal Council
Main Office Phone: (780) 791-6538