AMC Supports FSIN in its Call for the University of Regina to Cancel Lecture of Poet Who Works with Convicted Killer Stephen Brown
January 3, 2020
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Arlen Dumas fully supports the Federation of Saskatchewan Indigenous Nations (FSIN) call for the University of Regina to cancel a proposed lecture of poet George Elliot Clarke who works with Stephen Brown (formerly Steven Kummerfield), a convicted killer in the death of a Saulteaux woman from Sakimay First Nation.
The controversy stemmed from the announcement that the University of Regina would host a lecture entitled, “Truth and Reconciliation versus the Murdered and Missing: Examining Indigenous Experiences of (In)Justice in Four Saskatchewan Poets,” which would include a presentation by Clarke. It became public Clarke had befriended and began a working relationship with Brown, who, when his name was Steven Kummerfield was convicted of manslaughter of Pamela Jean George in 1995. Despite the brutality of the murder, Kummerfield served only four-and-a-half years of a six-year sentence and was released on parole in 2000.
Yesterday the FSIN issued a release from its Executive demanding the University of Regina cancel the proposed lecture, as Clarke did not bother to confirm whether he would cite work of Steven Brown. The University of Regina stood by its decision to invite Clarke based on freedom of speech, thought and expression and academic freedom. An online petition also began calling for the cancellation of the lecture.
Today, Clarke cancelled his appearance at the University of Regina, and issued an apology to the George family. Also today, the University of Regina was reported to have heard people’s concerns and are engaging Indigenous leaders, representatives, Elders, and groups.
In support of the FSIN’s statement, and those who honour all Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, AMC’s Grand Chief Arlen Dumas stated,
“There is something inherently wrong when a post-secondary institution chooses to favour its own pursuit rather than considering the impact of this decision on the families of Pamela Jean George, and all First Nations. The University of Regina’s rejection to cancel the lecture directly opposes the meaning behind Truth and Reconciliation, and only exemplifies the injustice of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.Rather than taking a bold position and pursuing the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Calls to Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the University of Regina has chosen to take a misguided position, applying the notion of ‘academic freedom’ from a white ivory tower perspective, negating the notion of ‘reconciliation’ and in fact pitting themselves against it.”