CMHR waiting for residential school system to be labelled 'genocide'

As the Truth and Reconciliation Commission came to a close Tuesday, people across Canada started wondering whether the countries institutions will start to recognize residential schools as a form of "cultural genocide."

Canadian Museum for Human Rights will use term in exhibits if 1st recognized by federal government

While the Canadian Museum for Human Rights says it already handles residential schools within the context of a genocide and welcomes survivors to do so, too, it will only start using the word in its exhibits after the federal government recognizes the term. (Jillian Taylor/CBC)

Justice Murray Sinclair described the residential school system as a form of "cultural genocide" against Canada's indigenous peoples as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) came to a close Tuesday. Now Canadians are waiting to see how many of the TRC recommendations are put into practice, and whether places like the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) will embrace the report's language.

Angela Cassie with the CMHR said the museum already describes residential schools in the context of a genocide, although she admitted it doesn't formally declare it as one.

The CMHR will be taking a close look at the TRC recommendations to try and integrate the new information into its exhibits, she said.

"We're looking at ways now to add to those exhibits, to speak to the report, and address some of the recommendations in the report," she said.

Cassie added that whether the CMHR will formally use the term "genocide" in its residential school system displays depends on if the federal government recognizes that as a legitimate description. If it does, the museum will follow suit, Cassie said.

Controversy arose before the museum opened in 2014 when advocates wanted the museum to call residential schools a genocide. 

Provincial day for residential schools

The museum currently highlights five genocides Canada recognizes and the people who fought for the distinction.

Maeegnan Linklater hopes the province dedicates an entire day to the legacy of residential schools.
Maeengan Linklater wants June 2 to be recognized as 'The Indian Residential School Genocide Reconciliation Memorial Day.' (Jillian Taylor/CBC)

"My mother, my father were suvivors of the Indian residential school experience," Linklater said, adding he grew up without his culture and Anishinaabe language because his parents were stripped of it in the schools.

He wants to see June 2 honoured as "The Indian Residential School Genocide Reconciliation Memorial Day."

"It recognizes the harm that it's done to its own population," he said.

Linklater has drafted an act for the provincial parties to consider and hopes they will follow the TRC's lead.


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