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Manitoba promises review after school trustee’s comments on Indigenous people

WINNIPEG — A school trustee’s comments on Indigenous people and residential schools have led to condemnation from many quarters and a review by the Manitoba government.

Paul Coffey, a trustee in the Mountain View School Division, told a school board meeting this week that residential schools started as a good thing.

He also said he would refer to Indigenous people as “Indians,” questioned the extent of abuse at residential schools, and said the term “white privilege” is racist.

The Southern Chiefs Organization is calling for Coffey to be removed, and the division’s superintendent says Coffey’s words run against everything the division stands for.

The Manitoba Teachers Society says the comments were vitriolic, uninformed and harmful.

Manitoba Education Minister Nello Altomare says he is looking into the matter and is launching a governance review.

“It is imperative that all of our schools are safe and inclusive spaces for all students,” Altomare said in a written statement Friday.

“We have been in contact with the board, and I will be meeting with the board chair and superintendent in the coming days to express our expectations, and remind them of their role and responsibilities as elected school board officials.”

Attempts by The Canadian Press to reach Coffey for comment were unsuccessful.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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