Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy
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Stan Beardy says Canada's historical treatment of First Nations people was genocide.
The Ontario Regional Chief for the Assembly of First Nations agrees with a recent op-ed in the Globe and Mail by Phil Fontaine and Bernie Farber that states residential schools and the Sixties scoop are evidence that meets the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide's definition.
"It definitely meets the criteria. What happened to First Nation people is in fact genocide," Beardy said. "What happened to First Nation people is not just an Indian problem, it's our collective history and a dark history of Canada and I think it's important that we deal with it as what it is."
No one knows how many children died as the result of Canada's residential schools, which was enforced and maintained through a national policy. With the Sixties Scoop, children were taken from their families at birth. Beardy said the government sometimes went as far as issuing death certificates so that those families couldn't trace their children after being given up for adoption.
"There again we lost many of our children," he said."When you talk about loss of life, it it's forced upon you it can constitute genocide."
Beardy hopes that the word will start conversations about Canada's past in order to start discussing its future.
"If we want a good future we need to talk about our collective history," Beardy said. "All we want is to be truthful about what happened."
It can also trigger a discussion about the original intent of treaties, which was for peaceful co-existence and collaboration.
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"I think that's still the wish today," Beardy said.