APTN National News
WINNIPEG–A Manitoba First Nation organization is slamming the Canadian Museum of Human Rights for refusing to use the term “genocide” in the title of an exhibit on Canada’s policies toward Indigenous people over the past century.
In a widely distributed letter to Stuart Murray, the head of the museum, the grand chief of the Southern Chiefs Organization calls the museum’s decision “disturbing.” The letter also notes that the museum received a $1 million donation in 2009 by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
“Your museum’s decision not to identify the shameful deceit, marginalization and ongoing attempts to assimilate and eradicate the original peoples of this country is a huge slap in the face for First Nations,” states Grand Chief Murray Clearsky, in the July 31 dated letter.
The letter then compares the recent revelation that federal officials were involved in conducting tuberculosis vaccine and nutritional experiments on First Nations people in the 1930s and 1940s with Nazi experiments during the Holocaust.
“While thousands of First Nation men were overseas in Europe fighting the Nazis…Canada was quietly and simultaneously conducting similar inhumane experiments on the families, relatives and community members of the very soldiers who were putting their lives on the line for Canada,” states Clearsky. “Many of the First Nations men, women and children who were test subjects in these atrocious nutrition and TB vaccine experiments were left forever scarred by the trauma and effects of drug testing and many were left with little hope of acknowledgement, remorse or legal recourse from the atrocities perpetrated by Canada.”
Last week, museum released a statement explaining why it would not be using the word genocide in Indigenous peoples exhibit.
“In the museum, we will examine the gross and systemic human rights violation of Indigenous peoples,” said the statement. “We have chosen, at present, not to use the word ‘genocide’ in the title for one of the exhibits about this experience, but will be using the term in the exhibit itself when describing community efforts for this recognition.”
Former Assembly of First Nations national chief Phil Fontaine, along with Bernie Farber, the former executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress and Michael Dan, a philanthropist, have begun campaigning to have Canada’s treatment of Indigenous peoples labeled as genocide.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was created to delve into the dark history of residential schools, has so far refrained from using the word in its description of Canada’s treatment of First Nation people.
Recent academic studies have found that Canada’s actions over the past century meet the definition of genocide under the UN Convention.