“There is no definition in international law for cultural genocide. What happened in residential schools is consistent with Article II of the UN Genocide Convention full stop,” said Gazan (Winnipeg Centre). “It is time that this government acknowledge the truth and provide justice for survivors who went through the most serious acts of genocide.”
The news of the 215 bodies found at the former site of Kamloops Residential School shows the scale of the tragedy, this is only one school. Grief and anger are justified reactions to this devastating news - and the certain knowledge that there are many other unmarked graves at many other residential schools.
“Before we can reconcile we need the truth to be acknowledged. What I experienced in residential school was genocide,” said residential school Survivor Gerry Shingoose. “It is violent that the government’s failure to acknowledge this fact leaves the experience of survivors up for debate,“ she said.
“The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) gives a very clear definition of what is and what is not a genocide. This country was built on the backs of and to the detriment of First Nation citizens by starving them death to make room for settlers; forcibly removing children to attend residential schools, inflicting physical and mental harm often causing death and forcibly removing children and adopting them to other ethnic and cultural groups in what is known as the 60s scoop. Each act meets the definition of genocide, without question,” said Grand Chief Arlen Dumas, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. “Those 215 children found in the mass grave in BC were murdered. It is far past time for this country to stop mincing words to protect the image of the Federal government. Now is not the time fall silent. This is genocide. First Nations expect the Federal government to admit as much so that we can finally begin from a position of honesty and responsibility towards healing.”
"There is no debating anymore as to whether this was genocide or not. When the bodies of hundreds of children are found in mass unmarked graves across the country, it wasn't just their culture that was taken, it was their lives, and that's murder. The Canadian government needs to stop "tip-toeing" around the facts with word games and commit to meaningful changes and legislation that protect First Nations people." said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels, Southern Chiefs’ Organization Inc.
“All eyes are on Canada and it’s response to the deadly impacts of the residential school system on Indigenous people in Canada. I urge the Government of Canada to realize the utmost importance of a truthful response to the tragic discovery of hundreds of unmarked children’s graves in Kamloops. Today I stand with Leah Gazan as she calls on Canada to recognize that the residential school system fits the definition of genocide.” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc.
The NDP are calling for action and justice - not just more words and symbolic gestures.
Gazan will ask for unanimous consent in the House of Commons on Thursday, June 10th after Question Period.