The Blackfoot Confederacy has called on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to fire his speechwriter over comments made in a 2013 essay about residential schools.
The essay written by now-Kenney speechwriter Paul Bunner was titled “The ‘Genocide’ That Failed” and was published in a right-wing online publication called the C2C Journal.
The essay argued that the narrative around residential schools amounts to a “bogus genocide story.”
The essay also argued that First Nations leaders have worked to suppress “media attempts to add some balance to the history of residential schools” and that some Indigenous people have spoken positively about residential schools.
“Bunner’s views on residential schools are offensive, dehumanizing and [have] hurt our treaty relationship,” Blackfoot community member Judge Eugene Creighton said in a statement. “These stereotypes of First Nations fuel systemic racism that we’re struggling with right now in Treaty no. 7, Alberta and Canada.”
“If Bunner’s views have changed, he needs to demonstrate that.”
The Blackfoot Confederacy, comprised of the Siksika, Kainai and Pikani nations within Blackfoot treaty lands, said it is calling for the provincial government to demonstrate anti-racist views, adding that continued collaboration between the province and the Blackfoot Confederacy is key for an inclusive Alberta.
“The Alberta government should ensure that their actions reflect the true intent of their words and agreements with us,” Blood Tribe and Kainai First Nation Chief Roy Fox said in a statement.
“Some of our residential school survivors and their multi-generational families continue to be blamed by others as a result of their experience as victims, and these misguided statements by government representatives only encourage continued racism against Indigenous people.”
According to Siksika Nation Chief Ouray Crowfoot, Bunner’s comments have damaged the relationship between First Nations in Alberta and the provincial government. Crowfoot said that a protocol agreement was signed in 2008 with Blackfoot leaders in an effort to improve that relationship.