Canadian Jews criticize return of anti-Semitic Native leader - World Jewish Congress

Canadian Jews criticize return of anti-Semitic Native leader

The Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) has welcomed a decision by Canada’s minister of Indian affairs, Chuck Strahl, to review the government's relationship with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) following its reinstatement of their controversial former leader David Ahenakew, who repeatedly made anti-Semitic remarks.

The minister was “absolutely correct to distance himself and his department from this man," said CJC co-president Reuven Bulka. "David Ahenakew has engaged in vile acts of anti-Semitism, and most Canadians, including many First Nations leaders, were mystified and disappointed by the FSIN's decision to welcome him back into the fold. It says something about what the organization stands for and its lack of respect for core Canadian values," Rabbi Bulka said.

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations is standing behind its decision to reinstate the controversial Ahenakew, saying a lifetime spent fighting for native people’s rights outweighed the five-year-old comment the former national chief made likening Jews to a disease. A federation chief told the media that he and his fellow chiefs felt that Ahenakew, who was quietly welcomed back into the fold last week, had suffered enough for the anti-Semitic remarks he made to a reporter.

Indian affairs minister Chuck Strahl said Ottawa would be "reviewing" its relationship with the federation in light of its decision, and added his department would not sit down with the federation if Ahenakew was in the room. "The past comments by this person have been very hurtful and inappropriate and go against absolutely everything that this country stands for," Strahl said in a written statement, which added: "I have given clear instructions to my staff and my department to not participate in any meetings with FSIN in which Mr. Ahenakew is involved."