North Bay Mayor Al McDonald, Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod and former OPP officer, George Couchie at the final segment of the local TRC sessions.

By Kelly Anne Smith

NIPISSING FIRST NATION—Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod has received much feedback affirming the need for the sessions.

“It was really positive and fulfilling,” expressed Chief McLeod. “In some sessions we had over 300 participants. There has been a ripple effect with people talking about it in the community. People are hearing about it and there are people hoping there is going to be another session.”

Chief McLeod says the good work of Kina maamwigdoo-wiikendaasmin was overshadowed in the last couple of weeks by Canadian Senator Lynn Beyak’s comments on Residential Schools. Beyak believes that good came from the Residential Schools.

Chief McLeod says it puts things back into perspective on just how much work needs to be done.

“Unfortunately, it comes down on the victims to do the heavy lifting,” stated Chief McLeod. “We were victimized as First Nations Peoples in Canada and now we’re left with the duty of educating people on Canada’s history.”

The Chief says Canada didn’t do an adequate job in telling Indigenous history.

“It’s almost like we are getting victimized twice about past events,” expressed McLeod. “I don’t mind working towards reconciliation, but through the four evenings of the TRC sessions in North Bay, I didn’t see any government people there at all. It’s been up to Indigenous People to conduct reconciliation themselves.”

Recently, the non-Indigenous Senator Beyak from Thunder Bay said she doesn’t require further education on the Residential School System because she has suffered alongside Indigenous People.

Thunder Bay’s committee on Truth and Reconciliation has invited Senator Beyak to meet to provide her with information to help her really understand the notorious legacy of Residential Schools.

NFN Chief McLeod is perplexed about the senator’s behaviour.

“It makes the task more daunting when we hear those types of comments coming from that high up,” stated Chief McLeod. “To say [Beyak] is well experienced [in suffering] because she went on a double date, it’s just ludicrous. This is stuff we would expect south of the border.”

Additional resources have to be spent on education insists Chief McLeod.

“Obviously there is work that needs to be done,” added Chief McLeod.