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June 11, 2021
Mr. Mark Hamm, Editor-in-Chief
1700 Church Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R2X 3A2
Re: Winnipeg Sun contributes to the denial of the atrocities experienced by Indigenous children who were forced to attend Canada’s residential schools
Dear Mr. Hamm,
As the Grand Chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc., a non-profit organization representing 26 Northern First Nations, I am writing to advise you that MKO is no longer willing to work with the Winnipeg Sun.
I have instructed my staff to remove all Winnipeg Sun staff from our media list. We will not grant any interviews to your publication unless you are willing to publicly retract and issue an apology for the opinion piece you published in your paper on June 4, 2021.
The article by Brian Giesbrecht was titled, “Some questions about Kamloops,” in which he says “it is time to move on” in relation to our collective mourning of the 215 children found in unmarked graves at the Kamloops Residential School.
Your writer also suggests that the children in unmarked graves may have been killed by the flu and tuberculousis. It is these types of articles that let people off the hook and give them permission to ignore the atrocities experienced by Indigenous children at these schools.
Let’s remember that children didn’t have an option to attend these schools. Government policies allowed children to be forcibly removed from their families and put into these institutions, some never to be seen by their parents again.
This opinion piece absolutely downplays the brutalities that impacted innocent children forced to attend residential schools in Canada. Concerned Manitoba citizens have contacted my office to express their disgust and sadness that the Winnipeg Sun has provided Brian Giesbrecht with a public forum in which he is able to spread misinformation about the legacy of residential schools. Your writer has the audacity to say that “it’s also not clear that there was even anything sinister about the discovery” in relation to the 215 unmarked children’s graves found on the site of the Kamloops Residential School.
When people are buried in unmarked graves, there is absolutely something sinister going on. The unmarked graves are not “forgotten” cemeteries, as your writer would suggest. These are graves that were never intended to be located.
It is people like Mr. Giesbrecht who perpetuate the denial of the atrocities inflicted upon Indigenous peoples in residential schools. Publishing this type of drivel does not contribute to reconciliation or healing even though it’s clear that we have much healing to do as a society.
There can be no reconciliation without first acknowledging the truth. At this time, the Winnipeg Sun has clearly shown that it has no business taking part in any conversations related to truth and reconciliation.
Shame on Brian Giesbrecht and shame on the Winnipeg Sun for sharing these words with the world. This is callous article and I cannot even tell you how outraged I am. People like Brian Giesbrecht should not be given a platform to share such hateful views.
If the Winnipeg Sun cares enough about Indigenous children and communities to issue an apology, you may contact my Executive Assistant, Dorothy Smith at [email protected] or at (204) 918-8101.
In the spirit of reconciliation,
Grand Chief Garrison Settee
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc.
cc: MKO First Nations