By Jacques Rouillard, Emeritus Professor
Department of History, University of Montreal
On October 27, 2022, Leah Gazan, M.P., put forward a motion that was unanimously supported in the House of Commons calling on the federal government to recognize the genocidal nature of Indian Residential Schools (IRS). Did all MPs really believe that the Canadian government and the religious communities that managed most of the schools set out to destroy Indigenous children?
In a text written later, Gazan explained that her intent was to “achieve real reconciliation in this country” that cannot be achieved without truth. We agree with her purpose, and we are also trying to bring truth to this situation.
Gazan seems to believes that “every part of the definition” of genocide, according to the UN Convention of the Crime of Genocide, applies to Indian Residential Schools (IRS): killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. The actions of the Canadian government and church leaders, Gazan wrote, were consistent with this definition and clearly expressed intent “to destroy Indigenous peoples.”
Read more – PDF file Leah Gazan’s motion on the Genocide of Aboriginals (4 pages)
About the author
Jacques Rouillard is a retired historian from the University of Montreal. He lives in Montreal and has published numerous books and articles on Canadian and Quebec history. He continues to do research and write on the relationship between Indigenous people, the Churches, and Canadian society.