Ontario Senator Lynn Beyak told her instructors for anti-racism training that she is Metis because her parents had adopted an indigenous child, her step-sister, according to CBC News.
Beyak is looking at potential suspension after failing to complete her anti-racism training from the Red Chamber. Beyak was forced to undergo anti-racism training after publicly defending residential schools.
The details of Beyak’s training sessions have been released by the Senate’s ethics committee. The program was through the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres and took place in the fall of 2019.
Initially, Beyak was expected to attend a three-day course of Indigenous “cultural competency training.” However, on her first day she claimed that she had Indigenous heritage due to her parents adoption which did not sit well with the OFIFC according to their report.
“Beyak explained that her Metis identity resulted from her family’s adoption of an Indigenous child (her adopted sister). The senator’s understanding and presentation of her Metis identity were flagged as a concern by the trainers … and by other participants,” said Nicole Meawasige, the training coordinator, in her email to the Senate ethics committee.
Manitoba Metis Federation President David Chartrand called the claim a “weird and strange sudden pronouncement” of Metis ancestry and said that it was offensive, according to CBC.
“I want to say in the strongest terms possible that even if she were Metis, the Metis Nation would disavow all of the discriminatory statements and actions that have come from this senator,” he said. “We deplore the way Senator Beyak has tried to say that it’s OK for her to publish racist comments because she claims to be Metis. Stay away from our nation. Identity theft is a crime.”
Beyak failed to complete her first lesson because of her “inflexibility and conduct made the learning environment unsafe,” said the trainers’ report which was then sent to Senate Ethics Officer Pierre Legault. The OFIFC then asked Beyak to leave the premises the report said.
Beyak’s lawyer is disputing the claim that she was asked to leave the premises calling the statement “untrue” in a letter to Officer Legault.
“Anyone who knows Sen. Beyak and her polite manner would immediately be suspicious of such an accusation,” he wrote.
He criticized the report of her training sessions as a “dilatory personal attack” calling the OFIFC “disorganized” and “unprofessional” in the manner with which it dealt with the senator.
This marks the second time that the Senate ethics committee recommended that Beyak be suspended from the upper house because of her failed attempt to take her anti-racism training seriously. They also cited the fact that she offered an insufficient apology after posting anti-Indigenous letters on her Senate website. The vote for her suspension will take place this coming week.
Beyak also told her trainers that there is no racism in northwestern Ontario prior to being asked to leave.