Indigenous people call Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s tweet ‘disappointing’

Indigenous people across Alberta are calling Premier Danielle Smith’s tweet “disappointing,” saying it is harmful to truth and reconciliation in the province.

Smith’s video, which was published on Twitter on Friday morning, claimed Indigenous peoples and settlers “united to tame an unforgiving frontier” to ensure the “prosperity of future generations.”

The video has since received intense backlash on social media, with many claiming she is revising parts of Canadian history.

Tanya Harnett, a fine arts associate professor for the University of Alberta, called Smith’s statement “ignorant” and “disappointing.”

Harnett is a member of the Carry-The-Kettle First Nations in Saskatchewan and added that elected officials have a responsibility to know about Indigenous history.

“It’s disappointing and it’s not informed. Anyone who’s in that level of government should really know what they’re talking about,” Harnett said.

Story continues below advertisement

“We should be at a point in time where we know the history and the children (that were killed).”

In a statement to Global News, the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations said it is aware of Smith’s tweet.

“The Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations is disappointed by the Premier of Alberta’s simplistic views on the colonization of Canada’s First Nations peoples and their territorial lands, and the lasting impacts colonization continues to have on our people,” the statement read.

Sean Carleton, a historian and Indigenous history scholar at the University of Manitoba, said Smith’s comments reveal an “all-too-common” misunderstanding about Canadian history.

Story continues below advertisement

“Her framing of the history of Canada’s relationship to Indigenous peoples as one of benevolence and partnership, rather than conflict and coercion, reflects a concerning lack of understanding,” he said in an emailed statement to QR Calgary.

“However, given Smith’s pattern of making and supporting such uninformed comments, even her spreading of residential school denialism on her Locals page in the summer, I question whether this is simply due to a lack of understanding or whether it is, perhaps more accurately, part of her deliberate twisting of histories of empire and colonization to protect the status quo.”

Read more:

Smith’s comments comparing Ottawa’s treatment of Alberta to Indigenous experience prompts criticism

Read next:

Part of the Sun breaks free and forms a strange vortex, baffling scientists

On Saturday, the Premier addressed her comments during 630 CHED and QR Calgary’s Your Province, Your Premier when a caller asked Smith to apologize and explain the comments made in Ottawa.

“I am happy to explain our partnership with First Nations, which I feel very proud of (and) I think our province has really been a pioneer in our relationship with First Nations,” she said. “This part of the world would not have been opened up if our First Nation partners had not been willing to trade with us… and develop a vibrant industry.”

She noted there is a long history of not living up to commitments outlined in Treaties and said her government is making “historical reparations for the errors that we made.”

Story continues below advertisement

Smith said it’s a partnership she values and because of that “you will hear me talk a lot about Alberta’s First Nations because I don’t want people to forget that history.”

But comments in the video, like Indigenous peoples and settlers “supporting one another as neighbours” have drawn broader concern about how Smith views that history.

“You can’t just say someone is your neighbour when the history of our country is a colonial one,” said Indigenous political science expert Matthew Wildcat. “Often times Canada has intruded on the rights and authority of First Nation and Indigenous People in the country. That has to be rectified before we can adopt terms like ‘neighbour’ to talk about each other.”

Wildcat, who is also a member of Ermineskin Cree Nation, said he takes issue with Smith’s use of the word “frontier.”

Story continues below advertisement

“Europeans used the idea of the frontier in order to exert control and power into new areas. The frontier is an idea of colonialism. It is distinctly meant to further colonialism.”

Global News and QR Calgary reached out to the Alberta NDP with requests for comment.

A spokesperson for the Alberta NDP said the party does not have anything further to add.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *