Views / Opinion

Jasmine Kabatay: Like mother, like son in Sen. Beyak's family

Sen. Lynn Beyak's son Nick Beyak, a city councillor in an Ontario town, is doubling down on his mother's rhetoric about Indigenous Peoples. Yep.

Senator Lynn Beyak's son Nick has come to his mother's defence.

Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

Senator Lynn Beyak's son Nick has come to his mother's defence.

I have often wondered where Indigenous Peoples fit in Senator Lynn Beyak’s world — or if we even have a spot there at all.

Beyak, who made news last year for saying residential schools were not all bad has been kicked out of the Conservative caucus after openly publishing racist letters from supporters on her Senate website.

Her senate colleagues are asking for an ethics probe. But her son Nick Beyak, a city councillor in Dryden, Ont., is defending his mother.

The younger Beyak, who was appointed to a vacant council seat, told the CBC last week that “the majority of Canadians agree” with his mom’s stance and the Conservative leadership is “cowed by political correctness.”

He went on to criticize Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellgarde’s appearance in a sketch mocking Sen. Beyak on CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

"He has time to do that while, daily, his people are starving, they are raped and living in horrible conditions and he has the time to go on TV and make fun of Sen. Beyak?" he said to CBC.

Nick Beyak’s characterization of Indigenous Peoples is pretty much in line with the “savages” idea of olden days.

It’s as if he’s never even been in an Indigenous community, despite living in Dryden, a town on Ojibwe territory where about one in five people claims Aboriginal ancestry and with reserves in close proximity.

It’s amazing to me how the Beyaks want to talk about Indigenous Peoples and their problems when they probably won’t step foot on a reserve for their own fears and prejudices.

And to suggest that Bellegarde isn’t taking care of “his people,” as if he, Nick, and his mother, in their capacities as public representatives don’t owe any responsibility to the same people?

The letters on Beyak’s senate website are important reminders that there are plenty of people who really think like she does. Not only is her son one of them, he believes he and his mom are in the majority.

And it all comes back to her first comment about residential schools.

Thousands of Indigenous children died at those schools. Many were abused and assaulted. The federal government apologized for what it did.

It is dangerous and wrong to try and lessen those horrors, and worse is the Beyaks’ attempts now to use a distorted residential school narrative to prop up arguments about free speech.

On the bright side, with the commotion and outrage this story has caused, it looks clear to me that the majority of Canadians do not think like Lynn and Nick.

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