SCO Denounces Ignorant and Inflammatory Words of Mountain Valley School Division Trustee

April 25, 2024

“We accept nothing but a full apology from the school board and the removal of Paul Coffey as a trustee.” – Grand Chief Daniels


ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is profoundly disappointed and dismayed by the recent comments made by Trustee Paul Coffey at the April 22, 2024, meeting of the Mountain View School Division (MVSD). As part of a presentation to his fellow board members, Coffey stated that “residential schools – they were good.” He went on to ask why there are “no good stories in Canada about residential schools?”

“It is with a combination of sadness and disgust that I listened to this trustee’s ignorant and dangerous rhetoric,” stated SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “Along with absolutely denouncing and rejecting his comments, SCO is also calling for Mr. Coffey’s resignation as trustee for the MVSD. Alternatively, SCO is calling to have him removed for spewing racism and hate.”

Along with questioning the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) on residential schools, Coffey went further with his anti-Indigenous rant. He questioned calls for governments to honour Treaties, which are legal agreements, as well as land acknowledgments. He noted that the TRC and land acknowledgements are causing division and asserts that acronyms (such as BIPOC and LGBTQ) are “degrading.” He explained he uses the word “Indian” to “honour” Indigenous people.

“The words of this person set us back when it comes to creating meaningful reconciliation within the school system. Perhaps even more troubling is the silence of his colleagues as they sat silently by him as he spewed his racist views,” added Grand Chief Daniels. “As part of the TRC’s Calls to Action, we are asked to bear witness and call out this kind of racist behaviour. We call on the members of MVSD to do their part and denounce their colleague’s behaviour and join us in demanding his immediate resignation.”

SCO is sending an open letter to Manitoba Education Minister Nello Altomare asking for the immediate removal of the trustee. SCO will also call for a thorough investigation into what transpired at the April 22nd meeting of the MVSD. SCO also wants to know more about the province and division’s codes of conduct when it comes to public presentations by elected officials and how they may be held to account. It is essential that codes of conduct are in place to ensure the removal of trustees who are sharing racist, inflammatory, and factually inaccurate comments.

“All students in Manitoba and their families need to know that their schools are places that are welcoming and safe,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels. “We can never allow schools to once again become a place for platforms of hate. I sincerely hope the provincial government and MVSD do what’s right and not allow bigots or revisionists use our institutions of learning to share their hateful messages.”


The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 87,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.

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