UBCIC calls for Carolyn Bennett's resignation for "racist" message sent to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs has called for the "immediate resignation" of federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett for a private message sent to independent Vancouver MP Jody Wilson-Raybould on social media.

      An open letter to Bennett, copied to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and dated June 24, said the UBCIC is "deeply disturbed and disgusted by the extreme callousness, spite, and ignorance you have shown through the racist message you sent to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould on Twitter, and is calling for your immediate resignation".

      The letter is signed by UBCIC president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, vice president Chief Don Tom, and secretary-treasurer Kukpi7 (Chief) Judy Wilson.

      The message in question, a one-word private response that said "Pension?", was sent in answer to Vancouver Granville MP Wilson-Raybould's post earlier today (June 24) that referenced the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at a Saskatchewan residential school and was critical of Trudeau for not following through on a three-year-old promise to pass comprehensive Indigenous-rights legislation.

      The response from Bennett, MP for Toronto-St. Paul's, was widely taken to be a reference to Wilson-Raybould being more concerned about her pension eligibility—with Trudeau rumoured to be thinking of calling an election this summer—than she was about Indigenous rights and residential schools.

      Wilson-Raybould, in a later tweet, revealed Bennett's response and characterized it as "racist & misogynist", said that it "reflects notion that Indigenous peoples are lazy & only want $", and that it "shows disregard, disdain, & disrespect for Indigenous peoples, as in our history".

      She ended by saying that Bennett's message also "conveys [that] a strong Indigenous woman, is a bad Indig woman".

      The independent MP, formerly the federal attorney general and justice minister, resigned from cabinet in 2019 and was then dumped from the Liberal Party shortly after by Trudeau after she defied him in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

      Bennett apologized for her response later the same day on social media: "Earlier I offered my apologies directly to the MP for Vancouver-Granville. I let interpersonal dynamics get the better of me and sent an insensitive and inappropriate comment, which I deeply regret and shouldn't have done."

      The UBCIC open letter went on: "Instead of heeding MP Wilson-Raybould’s message with the seriousness warranted as she called for immediate and transformative action following the horrific news that another 751 unmarked gravesites have been located at a former Indian Residential School site in Saskatchewan—you decided to lash out with a colonizer’s tongue. This was a cowardly attempt to silence a powerful Indigenous voice calling out for truth, action and justice.

      "With a single word—'pension'—you not only decided to perpetuate a damaging racial stereotype, that Indigenous peoples are lazy and only financially motivated- but dismissed the pressing, overarching issue of residential schools, missing and murdered children, and Indigenous rights. Your implying that MP Wilson-Raybould’s fight for equality and justice is only motivated by a pension is categorically untrue, misogynistic, and condemnable. MP Wilson-Raybould is a strong and successful Indigenous woman who has, throughout her career, faced unwarranted attempts to discredit and tear down her reputation, hard work, and integrity.

      "UBCIC is especially disturbed that you, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations who has a mandate of the highest order to protect and advance Indigenous Title, Rights, and welfare, would resort to a low-handed attempt to shame and insult an Indigenous woman and fellow Member of Parliament. Time and time again we have seen your government perpetuate colonial-era, sexist stereotypes that Indigenous women cannot be powerful, forthright, and steadfast in positions of power, but rather confrontational, bothersome, and egotistic."