NDP seeks unanimous consent from members of Congress to mark the boarding school experience as genocide

A New Democratic Party member plans to propose a motion in the House of Commons tomorrow, seeking unanimous consent, calling on the federal government to recognize the incident at the boarding school as a genocide.

Leah Gazan, who represents the Winnipeg Centre on horseback, told CBC News that she believes that the boarding school experience is in line with the UN drafted definition of genocide, which describes it as an “attempt” to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group in whole or in part. . “

New Democratic Party member Leah Gazan will come to power during the questioning period in the House of Commons on June 7, 2021. (Canada Media/Sean Kilpatrick)

The United Nations definition refers to various forms of genocide—killing members of a group, causing serious physical or mental harm to members of a group, deliberately creating conditions to completely or partially destroy the body of a group, and taking measures to prevent childbirth and Forcibly transfer children from one group to another.

“[The prime minister] It needs to be called genocide,” Gazan said.

“Doing anything else, leaving it to debate, is another act of violence, especially against survivors.”


But some experts do not agree to use this term to describe the age of boarding school.

“Technically speaking, in my opinion, this is not genocide,” said Frank Jock, a professor of history and co-founder of the Montreal Institute of Genocide and Human Rights at Concordia University.

“But the crimes committed are brutal and may be in line with crimes against humanity in international criminal law.”

Jock said that in Canada’s boarding school system, he saw evidence of criminal negligence rather than criminal intent—and the intent was required by the UN Convention on Genocide.

Jock said he prefers to use the term “cultural genocide”— Members of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee used in the final report Describe the establishment and operation of a boarding school.

He also stated that the focus should be on implementing the C-15 Bill-a bill that respects the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples-rather than arguing over the terms.

“I sympathize with the urge to force the Canadian government to admit to genocide against the indigenous people, including in boarding schools,” Jock said.

“But I think that in order to compensate for the offspring of children forced into boarding schools, the real goals that need to be achieved today are distracting.”

“Another Genocide”

Fannie Lafontaine, professor of law at Laval University and chair of Canadian International Criminal Justice and Human Rights Studies, disagrees with this view. She said that genocide was the correct word to describe the boarding school experience.

Lafontaine said that the definition is not limited to the massacre, but can also include events that occurred over a long period of time. She pointed out that the forcible transfer of children from their families to school is an example of genocide.

“You can destroy a group by destroying its social structure and social units. I think this is what Canada has been doing for decades,” Lafontaine said.

“Canada committed another crime of genocide.”

Fannie Lafontaine is the lead author of the national genocide legal analysis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. (UQAM)

Lafontaine contributed Legal analysis of the 2019 National Survey of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, And concluded that violence against indigenous women and girls is equivalent to genocide.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau He used these words after receiving the final report of the investigation And repeated them last week National Action Plan released.

Lafontaine said that the government recognizes that genocide will have legal consequences-which require full implementation of the recommendations of the investigation and the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“This is a structural change,” she said. “This is to recognize the damage caused by colonization and to eliminate this damage by returning power to the indigenous peoples.”

‘Abstention is a very clear vote’

Gazan said that the term “genocide” needs to be used, because the term “cultural genocide” does not exist in international law.

Her motion came three days after the New Democracy Party filed another motion, which requires the government to abandon legal proceedings against two court rulings involving indigenous children and expedite the identification and recording of unmarked cemeteries in boarding schools.

That action Passed 271 to 0 with the support of all parties, Including many Liberal Party MPs. Liberal Party cabinet members abstained.

“Abstention is a very clear vote,” Gazan said.

“It means,’We know what we are doing is wrong, and we will continue to do it.'”

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