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

Severe storm warning remains in effect for the Kootenays

Two special weather statements have been issued for the West Kootenay

Update: Suspect in Montrose gas station stabbing new to the area

Police say the 30-year-old suspect stabbed a Montrose gas station employee

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

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

RDKB launches survey to address housing needs in the district

Communities in the district include Trail, Grand Forks, Rossland and Fruitvale

No passenger flights at West Kootenay Regional Airport until at least September

This is the third time Air Canada has announced changes to flight operations out of the airport

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Join Kootenay family in virtual walk for Ronald McDonald House

“We always described it as our oasis in the middle of the desert,” Brigitte Ady shares.

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Most Read