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City councillor apologizes after remarks spark call to resign by Williams Lake Indian Band

Marnie Brenner issued a statement Thursday afternoon offering her ‘sincere’ apology
Marnie Brenner is currently in her first term as councillor with the Williams Lake City Council. (Williams Lake Tribune file photo)

A Williams Lake city councillor has issued an apology for comments she made about residential school after a First Nations community expressed outrage.

The Williams Lake Indian Band (WLIB) called for the resignation of Coun. Marnie Brenner and an apology from the City following a regular city council meeting on Tuesday, June 16.

Read More: B.C. First Nation calling for Williams Lake councillor to resign over residential school remarks

“I would like to offer my sincere apology for my comments made at the City of Williams Lake Council meeting on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, and to clarify my position with some context,” Brenner noted in the written statement.

“As an aboriginal woman adopted by a non-aboriginal family in the 1960s, I have my own thoughts about reconciliation and other contemporary Indigenous issues because of my lived experience. I acknowledge my words were poorly chosen and may have come across as insensitive and I apologize to those who thought they were a slight against survivors of residential schools and were hurt by them.”

Brenner went on to say her intention wasn’t to hurt, rather “to highlight the importance and value of honest, open dialogue around truth and reconciliation, especially around the many difficult things that aboriginal people face daily.”

“It’s a discussion that I believe needs to continue as we move forward together.”

At the council meeting in question, Brenner had spoken about reconciliation and how it was a key component of a May 12 presentation to the City by WLIB on their cannabis cultivation facility that will be built on First Nations land within city limits.

She had acknowledged that some “terrible” things happened at residential schools but that she has also heard from others in the community who said they were disappointed to leave the residential school because it had a pool.

Mayor Walt Cobb then pointed out the residential school also had a hockey team.

Watching the livestreamed city council meeting, WLIB Chief Willie Sellars said Wednesday, June 17 he was shocked and frustrated by Brenner’s comments.

Read More: Multigenerational pain of residential schools lingers for many in B.C.

A nurse, Brenner was elected to serve her first term on Williams Lake city council in October of 2018.

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