“I think the U of R has a big stain on them right now,” said Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice Chief Heather Bear over the University inviting poet George Elliott Clarke to lecture and possible read the work of convicted killer Steven Kummerfield.
Kummerfield killed Pamela George in Regina in 1995.
“To hide behind academic freedom,” Bear said. “In glorifying him as an accomplished poet rather than the monster we see him as.”
The University said it is trying to balance free speech and expression, while being committed to supporting truth and reconciliation.
“The University recognizes that the original decision to bring Canadian poet, George Elliott Clarke in as this year’s Woodrow Lloyd lecturer was not supported by all communities and unfortunately brought back painful memories for many in relation to the 1995 killing of Pamela George,” the U of R said in a statement.
“It’s the same old history repeating itself every time they make a mistake. They can never say ‘I’m sorry” when making a mistake,” Bear said.
The University said it was “reaching out to a number of Indigenous leaders, representatives, elders, and groups. We are seeking to engage our Indigenous stakeholders in open discussions.”
But Chief Bobby Cameron said there was no dialogue with First Nations about the subject.
“There was no consultation with First Nations elders or leadership in the area about the potential subject matter. This is a complete failure on behalf of the University and its board,” Cameron explained.
Bear questioned the effectiveness of the University’s engagement, unless it apologies first for what it has done.
(Photo: FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear. MBC file.)