Golden West Broadcasting apologized after some of its radio stations ran an ad by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy which suggested the trauma caused by Indian residential schools is a myth.
“We’re sorry for letting it get on our airwaves with this kind of a message, so we’re going to make very sure that we don’t let this kind of message get on the radio again … It shouldn’t have aired at all,” Golden West president Lyndon Friesen said in an interview.
The organization vets ads before they run, but “we didn’t look at this one closely enough, obviously,” he said. “I’m not sure why this one didn’t get vetted out.”
Golden West owns radio stations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Friesen said he could not recall which stations ran the ad or in which communities it ran. He said the ad ran once about two weeks ago and some people who heard it contacted the company to raise concerns.
An emailed statement issued by Golden West Tuesday afternoon stated that an apology would be issued on the stations that ran the ad “and measures are being taken to ensure material like this does not air on our stations in the future.”
The Frontier Centre ad asked whether Canadians are “being told the whole truth about residential schools” and claimed it is a “myth” that Indian residential schools robbed Indigenous children of their childhoods, language and culture.
Roger Currie, the broadcaster who read the ad, told the Saskatoon StarPhoenix on Monday that the content of the ad “certainly doesn’t represent my views,” and he accepts that the more than 100 years during which the residential schools operated was a “bad chapter in Canadian history.”
He said he severed his relationship with the Winnipeg-based Frontier Centre after the ad began circulating on social media over the weekend.
In a statement, the Frontier Centre said the advertisement was for its radio commentary program, which is “designed to reach a wider non-traditional audience for our think-tank across the prairies.”
The Indian residential school system, established in 1876 by the Indian Act, was funded by the federal government and administered by various churches. The last residential schools in the country closed a little more than 20 years ago.
The system is widely understood to have caused great harm to generations of Indigenous children who were separated from their families and stripped of their language and culture, with the aim of assimilation. ‘Repeating it causes damage over and over and over again’: Frontier Centre radio ad describes residential school harm as a ‘myth’
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