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LETTER: Kenney’s statement harmful; furthers divide between Indigenous, non-Indigenous peoples

Communities 'saddened, even angered' at Premier's quick response at site of Morinville church fire.

On June 30, the Town of Morinville woke up to find a beloved historical building and place of worship had burned to the ground. We have many brothers and sisters in Treaty No. 6 Territory who have frequented this church for weddings, funerals, and their own worship, Especially our neighbours in Alexander First Nation, who use the town of Morinville as a hub for school, grocery shopping, and to attend the church.

What has deeply saddened and even angered our communities, is the quick response from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. The premier jumped to the site of the charcoaled building to declare the fire was a "hate crime" in a polished video posted to social media. This was a surprise to many Albertans and Indigenous communities who had not heard from the RCMP the official cause of the fire. Further, we have yet to see Kenney react the same way to speak with Muslim women who have been attacked numerous times as of recent, nor has he visited any of the nations or residential school sites located in Alberta to discuss the uncovering of children and bringing them home.

Given the political environment and news surrounding the discoveries of thousands of children’s bodies at residential school sites across Canada, a statement with no evidence will only do one thing – sound a dog whistle to Kenney’s most hateful supporters and staffers. The premier’s promotion of hate crimes toward First Nations should have him face his own judicial system.

We cannot ignore the division he is trying to create with this statement and place blame on Indigenous peoples. Kenney must recant his statement and apologize for perpetuating harm on Indigenous peoples, and more specifically residential school survivors. 

Arthur Noskey, Grand Chief, Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, Chiefs of the Sovereign Nations of Treaty 8


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