Poilievre Fires Back at Miller over Inuit Identification Controversy

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Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative Leader, has come to his own defense regarding the descriptive text attached to photographs he shared on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The controversy was stirred by Liberal Cabinet Minister, Marc Miller, who accused Poilievre of incorrectly identifying Inuit individuals as Algonquin in his social media posts.

Over the weekend, Poilievre shared two photos of himself engaging with three individuals of Inuit descent, who were donned in their traditional attire. He captioned these photos stating his honor in joining the Algonquin Elders and leaders at the eternal flame to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

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Marc Miller, previously minister of Crown-Indigenous relations and now serving as federal immigration minister, promptly discerned the people in the photo as Inuit, not Algonquin. He indicated one person as Elder Manitok Thompson, a noted member of the community.

In addressing the issue, Miller said, “We are all learning some difficult truths, particularly today, and mistakes can happen.” Reportedly, his comment sparked a ripple effect, with other politicians and political observers added their two cents to the developing issue. As per Canadian Press reports, this led to an outpour of online criticism aimed at Poilievre.

Nonetheless, Poilievre insisted his caption was not a mistake but was misinterpreted by Miller. He revealed to reporters that he was aware the individuals in the photograph were Inuit. However, the ceremony he had attended was coordinated by Algonquin leaders who chose not to be photographed.

Poilievre explained, “The reason we didn’t put pictures of that ceremony (online) is because, based on their traditional custom, they prohibit photography.” He continued saying, “So out of respect for them, we did not photograph that ceremony,” adding that they instead captured images of other Inuit leaders, including an Inuk knowledge keeper, who participated in the Algonquin ceremony.

In response to Miller’s accusation, Poilievre criticized his approach as “appalling politicization” of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. He also condemned the Canadian Press for its weekend coverage, alleging it “regurgitated a false tweet from a Liberal minister.”

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was commemorated on Parliament Hill this past Saturday. The gathering saw hundreds of attendees including residential school survivors, numerous Indigenous leaders, the current Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Gary Anandasangaree, and Governor General Mary Simon.