(BOB: Update. On this same day, Mr. Ahenakew indeed affirmed he would stay retired and would refuse reinstatement into the FSIN.)
THUNDER BAY, ON, April 2 /CNW/ – An Anishinabek Nation leader says David Ahenakew’s racist opinions are reason enough for him to retire from public life.
Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare was commenting on reports that the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations had reinstated Ahenakew as a senator, an appointed position from which Ahenakew resigned in December, 2002 after a newspaper published his comments blaming Jews for causing World War II. His subsequent conviction under Canada’s anti-hate laws was overturned in January by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, which ordered a new trial. This week it was reported that the FSIN had appointed Ahenakew to its Senate, an advisory body of some 20 members whose objectives include “The promotion of respect and tolerance for all people.”
“He was quick to apologize for his hateful remarks, which indicates he knew what he did was wrong,” said Deputy Grand Chief Hare, “But he has to accept that the damage his words caused will not be erased if he tries to pick up where he left off five years ago. It may be true that Mr. Ahenakew made many contributions to Canada as a soldier and political leader, but his racist comments have made him a liability to any organization that gives him a position of authority.
“First Nations citizens fight racism every single day in Canada, but we cannot succeed in our struggles by stooping to the same level as ourtormenters.”
David Ahenakew was appointed to the Order of Canada in December, 1978, and his membership was revoked in 2005 because his actions “brought disrepute to the Order.”
The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.