Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer makes his way to a media availability in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Monday, June 10, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

VIDEO: Andrew Scheer says Canada’s treatment of Indigenous women not a ‘genocide’

Conservative leader says the treatment ‘is its own tragedy, and does not fall into that category’

“Genocide” isn’t the right word to describe what’s been done to generations of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Monday.

“I believe that, as most Canadians do, that every single life lost is a tragedy, has a huge impact on families and loved ones and that there are concrete things the government can do, that all levels of government can do, to help protect vulnerable people in our society, specifically Indigenous women and girls,” Scheer said on Parliament Hill.

“That being said, the ramifications of the term ‘genocide’ are very profound. That word and term carries a lot of meaning. I think the tragedy involved with missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is its own thing, it is its own tragedy, and does not fall into that category of genocide.”

The federal inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls released its final report a week ago. The report says that under international law, a genocide doesn’t need a single directing mind, or to be an organized campaign of violence.

The inquiry’s four commissioners included a long separate argument for why Canada’s “series of actions and omissions,” from residential schools to poor health care to unsafe transportation to indifferent or even hostile policing, have allowed Indigenous women to be targeted in numerous ways that add up to what they called an ongoing genocide.

“Canada has displayed a continuous policy, with shifting expressed motives but an ultimately steady intention, to destroy Indigenous Peoples physically, biologically, and as social units,” through oppressive colonial actions that have persisted since Europeans began settling, the commissioners’ argument says.

The inquiry report says it’s impossible to count the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada accurately. One reckoning by the RCMP found 1,186 applicable cases in its files over the past 30 years alone. The Mounties do not police the whole country, not every missing person is reported and not every death becomes a police matter.

The use of the term “genocide” in the report instantly sparked arguments over whether the inquiry commissioners’ label is accurate and whether those arguments risk obscuring their other findings and the 231 recommendations they made.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not directly answered questions about whether he agrees with that, though he has said he accepts the findings of the report.

Canada signed on to the United Nations’ 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which included commitments to avert and stop genocidal acts and to punish perpetrators. After the latest inquiry report was released, the secretary general of the Organization of American States said he wanted to form an international panel to investigate the claim and achieve justice.

On Sunday, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett told Global Television’s “The West Block” that the Liberal government would support such a call because it believes in the “rules-based international system.”

“The idea that Canada would now be subject to the types of international actions that follow findings of genocide — I think we have to be very careful with the use of that terminology and I don’t want to get distracted from the good work that the report has done,” Scheer said.

“But that being said, I think that the tragedy is its own thing, it is its own heartbreaking situation for every single family that was affected by it, and it does not fall into the category of genocide.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Town grants Chamber $20K

Chamber estimates up to $65K in lost revenue, turns to council for help

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

New Salt Boutique the realization of a vision for owner Caroline Marko

Marko combines the rough and the soft in a minimalist, clean airy space

Coastal GasLink pipeline work ramps up

With spring thaw ending, workers start to arrive for summer season

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read