People's Party of Canada flyer distributed in Vancouver compares vaccine passports to residential school system
The B.C. Assembly of First Nations is calling for the removal of a People's Party of Canada candidate in Vancouver over a flyer comparing vaccine passports to the residential school system.
The flyer was distributed to homes in the riding of Vancouver-Quadra, and features a picture taken at a residential school in the 1800s on the front with the words "DISCRIMINATION IS WRONG" and "NO VACCINE PASSPORT."
The other side contains information about PPC candidate Renate Siekmann and misinformation related to COVID-19.
Asked for comment, Siekmann referred CTV News to her Twitter feed, where she doubled down on her decision to distribute the flyer. "This analogy may make some uncomfortable or angry but this is a hard and important conversation to have," she wrote, adding that approximately 52,000 flyers had gone out
On Wednesday afternoon, the BCAFN called on Siekmann's party to remove her as a candidate.
“Claiming that a public health measure, such as a vaccine passport, is somehow comparable or equivalent to violent and genocidal practices is harmful and repugnant," BCAFN Regional Chief Terry Teegee wrote in a statement.
Carey Newman, the artist who created the Witness Blanket, a national monument made in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee's findings that the residential school system amounted to cultural genocide, told CTV News the campaign material is "offensive."
"Anything that invokes residential schools as a comparison to inconvenience fails to recognize the fundamental difference between being asked to get vaccinated or wear a mask to protect each other, and being forcibly removed from your home, family and culture," Newman said in a statement.
He added that Indigenous people survived the 1918 pandemic and small pox and so know the importance of protecting the collective well-being.
"Our lives are overlapping and our actions have implications for others. When those actions result actual harms and death, we have the responsibility not to let our own wants infringe upon the health and freedoms of others," Newman said.
Jennifer Malcolm, who lives in Vancouver, contacted CTV News after receiving the pamphlet. She called the content "bigoted" and "upsetting." Another woman said it was disturbing and offensive.
The flyer was distributed amid a new upswell of grief and anger over Canada's residential school system. The discovery of unmarked graves on a number of former school sites confirmed what Indigenous communities knew for years: that many of the children who were forced to attend never returned home.
The Vancouver-Quadra riding stretches from the University of British Columbia to Arbutus Street, and from Point Grey to Vancouver International Airport. It also includes the Musqueam Indian Band.