Hon. Sandra M. Lovelace Nicholas:
Honourable senators, I wish to speak in support of Motion No. 302. Some of my colleagues have already spoken so eloquently on this subject and now I wish to give my perspective as a First Nations person in this chamber.
Colleagues, I have experienced racism and hate most of my life, and I never thought I would have to deal with racism in this place which is held in high esteem by most Canadians.
As a young child walking to school, I would be called a dirty squaw and see unseemly gestures pointed at me. I would feel shame, even though at the time I didn’t understand what racism was. Senators, this is only a small part of what I lived through as an Indigenous person.
Racism can destroy your spirit, your effort and your confidence, even at an age when you really don’t understand why you are being shamed.
Honourable senators, after I grew up and learned what racism really is, there are parts of the spirit — your soul and your dignity — that have been destroyed. These feelings can come back to haunt you.
I agree with First Nations and Canadians that Senator Beyak should take down her racist posts from her website. Shortly after the posts appeared, a White nationalist group claimed responsibility for posting racist graffiti against First Nations at the University of New Brunswick. We should not be fostering the rise of hate in our communities.
It has been a great disappointment that Senator Beyak has been allowed to continue her defence of the hate comments posted on her website. In my opinion, Senator Beyak may be confused as to the definition of what is considered racist and may benefit from a sensitivity training course.
In this privileged place, where senators represent minorities and the less privileged, even a hint of racism by one of its members should not be tolerated.
Honourable senators, Canadians are watching us, and we need to make sure we uphold the standards of tolerance and equality for all. Thank you.