Manitoba’s former minister of Indigenous and northern relations says she stepped down from her post because of “inappropriate words and actions,” but did not point a finger directly at the premier.
Eileen Clarke posted a message on her Facebook page and sent a statement to media about her resignation earlier this week, which came after Premier Brian Pallister made remarks in response to the toppling of two statues of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria on the grounds of the legislature.
“It is not my intent to divide or be disrespectful, but I do feel transparency is required,” she posted on social media.
“Strong leadership is required to heal and bring our province and country together in harmony, it can not be done by one individual. Inappropriate words and actions can be very damaging.
“I want to be very clear, I do not in any way condone violence and destruction.
“This behaviour was not a part of the Indigenous people I know and respect. I will continue to advocate for genuine reconciliation and unity.”
Last week, Pallister said people who came to Canada did not come to destroy things, but to build up communities.
“The people who came here to this country, before it was a country and since, didn’t come here to destroy anything. They came here to build. They came to build better,” he said.
“We need to respect our heritage just as we need to respect one another…. Not to find fault, not to tear down, not to highlight every failure, but rather to realize that we’re a complex country as we are made up of complex people,” Pallister said at a July 7 news conference, where he also added that the statues would be restored.
Pallister doubled down on those comments at a press conference Wednesday, but said he has known Clarke since he was 21 and respected her decision.
“I stand by my comments last week,” he said. “But I have nothing but respect and love and admiration for my friend Eileen Clarke.
“That’s a tough, tough portfolio and … Eileen’s done a tremendous job in it … I’m tremendously appreciative of her work. And I’ll never stop loving Eileen Clarke.”
Indigenous leaders reacted strongly to her resignation, with all who spoke to Global News praising Clarke for her respect and efforts to foster a relationship between First Nations communities and the provincial government.
Read Clarke’s media statement here:
“It is very unfortunate that the approach and comments of the Premier towards First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples has made Ms. Clarke’s job intolerable, but it is indicative of the poor relationship that the Premier has with the original and Treaty peoples of Manitoba,” said Treaty One Nation Chief Dennis Meeches.
“We wish Eileen Clarke continued success as MLA for the constituency of Agassiz.”
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