Senior adviser to N.B. racism commissioner resigns, questions independence of office

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FREDERICTON – The senior coverage adviser to New Brunswick’s commissioner on systemic racism has resigned, citing questions in regards to the office’s independence from authorities.

Adviser Robert Tay-Burroughs printed his resignation letter on social media Tuesday, saying he has been troubled “by the false pretences” beneath which the office of commissioner Manju Varma was doing its work.

“The limits placed by external forces on what we can and cannot say in your final report has compromised our already fragile independence,” he wrote. “It remains unclear to me that the leadership of this government can respect your independence, which raises my doubts that it will — if it ever intended to — receive your recommendations in good faith and with an open mind.”

“As I am no longer convinced that our work will meet the needs of the First Nations in this province as they have articulated them to us, I must resign as your senior adviser,” Tay-Burroughs wrote.

Varma’s ultimate report is anticipated in October. No one from her office was out there for remark Wednesday.

The resignation got here a day after Mi’kmaq chiefs launched a draft interim report that Varma had ready in April however had not launched. It included a name for a public inquiry into racism within the justice system towards Indigenous folks. It additionally really useful restoring all place names that include racist terminology towards Indigenous peoples with unique Wabanaki names, or names really useful by First Nations.

In a press release Monday, the Mi’kmaq mentioned they had been involved the federal government appeared to be interfering with the commissioner’s office and dictating what suggestions could possibly be made. As a outcome, the chiefs mentioned they’d not take part in Varma’s work.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn instructed reporters Monday that the federal government met with Varma in April however didn’t ask the commissioner to hold the interim report from the general public. In truth, Dunn mentioned she wasn’t anticipating an interim report.

Dunn mentioned she expressed issues at that assembly that the commissioner had not met with many authorities departments to be taught of work that was underway.

On Wednesday, Dunn repeated her observations of the April assembly, and instructed reporters she has no thought what Tay-Burroughs was referring to when he mentioned exterior forces had been proscribing what the commissioner can say.

“At no time did anyone try to say to the commissioner that she had to shelve the report or restrict her capacity in any way, shape or form,” Dunn mentioned Wednesday.

Dunn mentioned she despatched a letter to Varma Wednesday morning, encouraging her to proceed her work and to attain out if she requires extra assets.

The minister acknowledged the feedback from First Nations teams, however inspired folks to take part within the commissioner’s work.

“I’m hoping that people are going to engage with her. This is very important for the province. It is very important for everybody who lives here, not just racialized and marginalized groups. This is important to all of us,” Dunn mentioned.

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed June 22, 2022.

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