Indigenous community upset over Smith’s version of Canadian history

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Danielle Smith released a video from her trip to Ottawa Friday reflecting on the origin story of Canada that’s not sitting well with Indigenous groups in southern Alberta, who are offended by what the Alberta premier said.

Against a backdrop of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Smith said, “As I walk the streets of our nation’s capital, I can’t help but be reminded of the history of this place, including how Canada was founded.

“Many years ago,” she said, “the Indigenous people of this land and those that came from across the world united to tame an unforgiving frontier ensuring prosperity for countless future generations.

Let’s find a renewed interest to reduce the division in our country and commit to building a stronger Canada 🇨🇦 so that we can find new ways to grow prosperity across our country. #cdnpoli #abpoli— Danielle Smith (@ABDanielleSmith) February 10, 2023

“It was their duty to support one another as neighbours and to build this country together, developing democratic institutions that would yield good and stable governance,” Smith said, continuing.

“I think it’s important to remind ourselves where we came from because it might help shape where we’re going.”

Jessica Salkeld, of the Reconciliation Action Group YYC, described Smith’s comments as “dehumanizing, demoralizing and hurtful.”

Salkeld said she has seen the video a number of times and said she’s hearing from the Indigenous community all over the province who are against it.

She said she’s not sure who’s advising Danielle Smith, but says her information is all wrong about the history of Canada and the role Indigenous people played.

“If she’s done any history reading, which she should be well-versed in the history of our country, in the history of this province, and if she knows anything about that history, she ought to know that what she’s seen as a bold-faced lie,” Salkeld said.

“The main statement she made was that she implied that Indigenous peoples were quote, good neighbours in the creation of Canada and that they equally participated in everything that came to put Canada together as a country and nation, implying we had equal partnership in all those pieces,” Salkeld said. “That would include residential schools, and the genocide of Indigenous peoples that is continuing today.”


Salkeld says Smith needs to apologize for her comments and accept that they are not OK, but rather they’re extremely hurtful.

“Her statements need to be condemned,” she said. “I expect the UCP caucus to condemn her statements, I expect an apology from her but I expect widespread condemnation of her comments.

“They are not acceptable, they are not OK and they’re extremely hurtful and they set us very far back in the journey towards truth and reconciliation and if she can’t even have truth, we certainly can’t have reconciliation.”

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said the comments are the latest example of the UCP’s tone-deafness when it comes to Indigenous relations.

“This was not an off-the-cuff comment,” he said. “Right? This was a scripted video with a message that she wanted to deliver and is just so historically inaccurate.”

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