Indigenous leader presses for UN probe into genocide by Canadian govt
United Nations, April 26 (IANS) An indigenous leader has pressed for UN investigation into alleged genocide by the Canadian government in "residential schools" for indigenous children.
"The Canadian government established what I call 'institutions of assimilation and genocide'. These institutions were designed to kill the Indian and the child by forbidding them to speak their language, which disconnect them from their families and communities," said RoseAnne Archibald, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, an organisation for indigenous rights in Canada, on Monday.
"Some people refer to these institutions as 'residential schools'. I don't call them schools anymore because no school I ever attended had children buried in unmarked graves. Thousands and thousands of our children died in these institutions," she told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York after attending a session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
"I'm calling on the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, along with other special rapporteurs, to conduct full-fledged investigations of the circumstances and responsibilities surrounding these institutions, including full redress, criminal prosecutions and sanctions and other remedies for human rights violations, including genocide," she said.
"Canada must not be allowed to investigate itself. Please help us ensure that something like this never happens again, not just to us, but to anyone," Xinhua news agency reported.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which is the federal police organisation, would come into Indian communities and take children forcibly and they would threaten parents with arrest. How can that organisation investigate itself or investigate Canada? It can't, she added.
"Canada's government established those institutions through policies and legislation. How can they possibly be independent and impartial when it shows that they are culpable and guilty of the deaths of our children? So that's why we have to go this international route and why we're asking for it."
She said her assembly has written to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and made a formal request for investigation. Her assembly has not heard back yet, she added.
A number of lawyers went to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2021 to ask for investigation into the possible gross human rights violations with respect to those institutions. The lawyers were turned away, she said.
"I believe that we're gonna continue to press on the ICC to also look at this situation in Canada with respect to our children, who went to those institutions and those children who died in those institutions especially."
"We are seeking justice and accountability from governments and churches. Canada and the other UN member states must not look away. We invite the world community to stand with First Nations to listen, learn and reflect on this tragedy that is shared by the US and Australia, which also had similar institutions," Archibald added.