Arts dean at Regina university sorry poet vilified over lecture controversy

Emails show the University of Regina’s dean of arts told George Elliott Clarke that he was sorry the acclaimed poet had been vilified over his relationship with the killer of an Indigenous woman.

They also show Clarke was hopeful he would be invited back to the school someday.

Clarke, a former poet laureate of Canada, cancelled his lecture at the university in January after news reports that he was connected to killer-turned-poet Stephen Brown.

“I just wanted to take a moment, Dr. Clarke, to say how sorry I am that it has come to this,” Richard Kleer wrote in an email to Clarke’s literary agent on Jan.3.

The email and others were released to The Canadian Press under freedom-of-information legislation.

“Your intentions were the very best,” Kleer wrote. “And I still find it almost impossible to believe that anyone who has worked so hard to draw attention to the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls should have been vilified in the way that we have all witnessed over the past two days.”

Clarke had been scheduled to give a lecture titled: ‘”Truth and Reconciliation’ versus ‘the Murdered and Missing:’ Examining Indigenous Experiences of (In)Justice in Four Saskatchewan Poets.”

In early January, CBC News first reported that Clarke had edited the poetry of Brown, who changed his name from Steven Kummerfield after he was released from a 6-1/2-year sentence for manslaughter.

Brown was a student at the university in 1995 when he and his friend Alex Ternowetsky killed Pamela George in Regina. Brown was granted parole in 2000. He later moved to Mexico.

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