Winnipeg mayoral candidate calls AMC’s statement defending new July 1 events ‘false and divisive narrative’

Winnipeg mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk says the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) has created a “false and divisive narrative” that’s trying to guilt voters into “abandoning” their love of Canada.

Earlier this month, Motkaluk publicly stated she wants The Forks not to continue with renaming July 1 events as “A New Day.” The name change, according to The Forks this summer, was meant to reflect on reconciliation efforts, and the potential discovery of unmarked burial sites on former residential school grounds.

Motkaluk said if elected mayor, she would appoint people to The Forks board who would help her celebrate Canada Day at the national historic site.

In response that same day, the AMC published a statement on its website, denouncing that promise.

“The Canada that Jenny Motkaluk is celebrating was built off the suffering First Nations and should have never existed in the first place,” the statement read.

“Canada is home for all of us, First Nations peoples and settlers alike. As a nation, we need to come together and agree that celebrating colonization and genocide is no longer part of the agenda.”

Motkaluk responds

On Monday, Motkaluk responded in a press release and open letter, saying the AMC is “declaring Canada should never have existed at all.”

“I state without fear that I am not a ‘settler,’ I am not a ‘colonizer,’ and I am not a guest in this country. I am a Canadian,” she wrote.

“I reject the cancellation of Canada Day, especially at the Forks, and I reject a false and divisive narrative that seeks to guilt Canadians into abandoning their love of Canada.”

Motkaluk wrote she’s not being “attacked for defending my love of Canada.”

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Deputy Grand Chief Cornell McLean said he believes politicians should move toward reconciliation. (CBC)

In a Monday interview, AMC deputy Grand Chief Cornell McLean called Winnipeg the “largest reserve in the country” since it has the largest urban Indigenous population in Canada.

“Why can’t we be part of democracy?”

Cornell repeated some of the points brought up in the initial statement, saying all politicians should work toward reconciliation.

“We agreed celebrating colonization and genocide is no longer part of the agenda. What point is she trying to make?” he asked.

“You can’t just go off on a little tirade every time someone makes a comment. Nothing was directed toward her or any other candidate — we merely made comments toward some of her beliefs.”

In the letter, Motkaluk said she will not participate in the AMC’s mayoral forum next week.

She also said she’s weighing whether or not she’ll participate in the debate held by the Chiefs of Treaty One Nation —depending on if they agree with AMC or not.

She’s also asking the other 10 mayoral candidates to mark their stance on the issue, and if they “agree Canada Day is a macabre celebration of genocide?”

Advance polls in Winnipeg are open until Oct. 21. Election day is Oct. 26.

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