A group of activists is lobbying the federal government to adopt the term genocide when describing Canada’s historical treatment of First Nations people.
The three activists include former Assembly of First Nations chief Phil Fontaine, former executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress Bernie Farber and neurosurgeon and philanthropist Michael Dan.
Farber says the government’s treatment of Indigenous people satisfies most, if not all, of the commonly accepted terms of what constitutes a genocide under the United Nations charter.
“We’ve caused serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group,” he says. “We have deliberately inflicted on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
We marched First Nations tribes from their traditional territories into swamplands. We’ve poisoned their waters. We’ve kidnapped their children. This list is sadly endless.”
He adds genocide can take on many different forms with perhaps the Holocaust being the most extreme example.
Farber says they are unsure whether or not the Harper government will adopt the term in the immediate future but the government certainly has nothing to lose by doing so since most of this mistreatment occurred under Liberal administrations.
A number of groups are also currently pressuring the Harper government to release all documentation relating to Indian residential schools where it is believed a number of accounts of abuse and violations of human rights exists.