Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Grand Council Treaty 3 Chief Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh are calling on organizations and residents in northwestern Ontario to sign a petition that demands the resignation of Senator Lynn Beyak.
Beyak is well known for defending the residential school system and was kicked out of the Conservative caucus last week after she apparently refused to remove racist comments posted to her Senate website.
On Tuesday officials from NAN and Grand Council Treaty 3 launched a nation-wide campaign and website, beyakresign.ca, and said in a written statement that the petition for the Senator's resignation will be distributed to all NAN and Treaty 3 communities.
"It's been something that we've talked about between ourselves and Treaty 3," Fiddler told CBC, "we need to do something to address what's been happening with Senator Beyak, considering the fact that she's from our region."
He said a high number of residential schools were located in this region of the country and it should be a concern for all Canadians when a senator continues to deny the experience, horror and injustice of the Indian residential school system.
Which is why he believes removing Beyak from the Conservative caucus is not enough.
"The fact that she's still a senator provides a forum for her to keep promoting the racist views," Fiddler explained, and "the Senate is a national institution … and the fact that she's still there should concern all of us, not just Indigenous people."
He said while she's entitled to her own personal opinion he believes the comments made by her and the letters posted to her Senate website "are downright racist."
A chance to come together
Grand Chief Fiddler says the website, beyakresign.ca, is not just for people to show their support but it's also an opportunity for everyone to read the comments and letters posted on Beyak's site.
"I think everyone needs to look at that and see for themselves why we are doing this," Chief Fiddler said.
He said he would also like to see more support from organizations in Thunder Bay as well as surrounding communities such as Dryden and Kenora.
"I think it's very important that everyone gets involved," Grand Chief Fiddler said, but "we don't see city council standing with us, or [Confederation] College or Lakehead University or the hospital."
"We don't feel that support from all these organizations and municipalities."
He believes various organizations need to start by "signing this petition and ... stating [their] support" to show that the region, as a community, will not tolerate racism or hatred.