September 24, 2018 8:21 pm
Updated: September 25, 2018 4:15 pm

Frontier Centre radio ad describes effects of residential schools as myths

WATCH: A radio advertisement is causing quite a stir after a two minute piece ran in parts of western Canada, including Saskatchewan, describing some of the effects of residential schools as myths. Katelyn Wilson reports.

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A radio advertisement is causing quite a stir after a two minute piece ran in parts of Western Canada, including Saskatchewan, describing some of the effects of residential schools as myths.

The ad was purchased by Winnipeg-based Frontier Centre for Public Policy (FCPP), an independent Canadian public policy think tank and a client of Golden West Radio.

READ MORE: How post-secondary schools are working to include indigenous knowledge in programs, address barriers


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The spot begins with a question posed by former Saskatchewan broadcaster Roger Currie asking the question: “Are Canadians being told the whole truth about residential schools?”

It then goes on to address what it refers to as several myths claiming that residential schools did not rob indigenous children of their childhoods, going on to say it actually helped them retain their language and culture and did not contribute to intergenerational trauma.

“In fact, there is little evidence that abuse that was suffered by a grandparent had any affect on the academic success of the generations that followed,” the ad continues.

“Those myths just aren’t truthful or the content they were providing and so one of the things I was struck by is why would the Frontier Institute undermine it’s own credibility by airing and producing something like that,” James Daschuk, an associate professor at the University of Regina who studies the health of Indigenous Peoples, said.

READ MORE: Saskatoon ahead of the curve with reconciliation

“As hurtful as the advertisement is, I think the fact that we’re all talking about it and the backlash that’s going to come on the producers of that advertisement, will actually be a positive thing for the reconciliation process in the long run.”

The ad was first put on blast by Saskatchewan blogger Tammy Robert who says having Roger Currie voice the ad could lend it more credibility in Regina where he was a former news broadcaster.

Although Robert would not say what radio station she was listening to or where, Global News confirmed it was a station operated by Golden West Radio.

READ MORE: Residential school survivors offer input into Truth & Reconciliation database

While Currie now volunteers as a news director for CJNU in Winnipeg, the station apologized Monday saying in a statement:

CJNU would like to sincerely apologise to our listeners, sponsors, and supporters for any implied connection with the commentary issued by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (FCPP) on September 13th.  A person who happens to serve as a volunteer with CJNU has also been a contractor for the FCPP, and voiced a piece for that organization that questioned the impact of the historical injustices on indigenous peoples of Canada. CJNU does not endorse the commentary in any way. We are currently investigating the situation. ***We can confirm that we did not air the piece in question, and have no intention of doing so.*** We have no relationship with the FCPP, and have never aired any material that they have produced. We regret that this has happened and acknowledge the hurt it could have caused.‪  

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy issued a statement to Global News late Monday night saying:

The Frontier Centre’s weekly radio commentary program has been running across various stations since 2004. It is designed to reach a wider non-traditional audience for our think tank across the prairies. Roger Currie, a main target of this social media attack, is simply a paid professional voice and has no editorial control. Frontier commentaries are based on published items produced by the Centre.

On Tuesday a statement was issued by Golden West Radio apologizing to its listeners saying:

For over 60 years, Golden West has been a leader on the Canadian Prairies for positive and uplifting local content. A one-time paid advertisement on some of our stations contained inappropriate commentary, which downplayed the effect of historical injustices on Canada’s indigenous peoples. This was a paid advertisement purchased and produced by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, and does not reflect the views of Golden West in any way. We apologize for the aired commercial, and for the impact it had on our listeners. An apology is being issued on the affected stations, and measures are being taken to ensure material like this does not air on our stations in the future. 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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