Indigenous leaders are calling for the removal of a Vancouver People’s Party of Canada candidate, over a flyer equating vaccine mandates to residential schools.
The flyer, mailed out by Vancouver-Quadra PPC candidate Renate Siekmann, features a photo of Indigenous children at a Methodist residential school in 1880, with the text “Discrimination is wrong” and “No vaccine passport.”
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The BC Assembly of First Nations responded Wednesday, calling the comparison “harmful and repugnant.”
“The analogy falls flat, trivializing the experience of Indigenous peoples within (the) residential school system to a public health measure doesn’t work,” BCAFN Regional Chief Terry Teegee told Global News
“(It) is in no way the same in the same ballpark, if you will, in terms of what are people experienced in terms of the genocidal policies that were imposed on our indigenous people, some of which never made it home, as we’ve seen in the mass graves that are in the camps and in residential schools.”
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Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimated 38,000 of the more than 150,000 children who were forcibly removed from their families and sent to the institutions were subjected to sexual or physical abuse.
The TRC has identified at least 3,200 confirmed deaths associated with the facilities, and in the last four months, more than 1,300 suspected graves, many of them unmarked or undocumented, have been discovered at or near the sites of former institutions.
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B.C.’s vaccine passport would restrict unvaccinated people from accessing certain non-essential services, such as restaurants, indoor sporting events and movie theatres.
Teegee said the BCAFN wants to see the candidate removed, and an apology from PPC leader Maxime Bernier.
Global News has attempted to contact Siekmann for comment on the flyers.
On Twitter, Siekmann — who calls herself “pro vaccine and pro choice” — said she’d distributed the flyers to about 52,000 homes.
“BC’s history hasn’t always been great, we must learn from the past & improve,” she wrote. “This analogy may make some uncomfortable or angry but this is a hard and important conversation to have.”
It’s an explanation Teegee had little time for.
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“An inconvenience versus being ripped away from your homes and brought into an institution to be assimilated — there is no comparison,” he said.
“Reaching for very far-right conspiracy theories and false information on a number of issues, and comparing it to (the) Holocaust … genocidal acts we’ve seen in history, including Indigenous peoples, is very dangerous. It’s spreading false information and perhaps even trivializing some of the experiences by those that experienced those harmful acts.”
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As of Wednesday, 86.1 per cent of eligible British Columbians had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The province says fully-vaccinated people made up just 12.7 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past two weeks.
Factoring for age, it said people who are unvaccinated are 37.9 times more likely to end up in hospital than those who are fully vaccinated.
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