Another First Nations leader is calling for the ouster of a People’s Party of Canada candidate who distributed campaign materials equating vaccine passports to residential schools.
Wayne Sparrow is the chief of the Musqueam First Nation, which lies within the boundaries of the Vancouver-Quadra riding where candidate Renate Siekmann sent the flyers to about 52,000 homes.
The mailouts feature a photo of Indigenous children in front of a residential school with the text, “Discrimination is wrong” and “No vaccine passport.”
“I would just ask her why she would make the comments and what education does she have,” he said.
“You can’t compare a vaccine to children that were taken. Their language was beat of of them, they were sexually abused, they were physically abused in those schools.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission found that tens of thousands of the more than 150,000 Indigenous children who were forcibly removed from their families to attend the institutions were sexually or physically abused.
At least 3,200 children died at the institutions according to the TRC, and in recent months more than 1,300 suspected grave sites have been located at the former sites.
Sparrow said he wants Seikmann to go and collect the flyers to get them out of circulation, to step down, and to publicly apologize.
He said the comparison was particularly upsetting given that Indigenous people are at higher risk from COVID-19, and that 98 per cent of his nation had already been fully immunized.
“It’s very upsetting that this is even being discussed, and having someone in that position running for a position in a federal party — it shows the ignorance.”
“Our aunts and elders, most of our community members, are trying to put that behind them, and then when they keep getting this brought up, and having the comparison, its more hurtful to them and rightly so.”
Neither Siekmann nor the PPC responded to a request for comment, but on Twitter, Siekmann defended the analogy, saying it “may make some uncomfortable or angry but this is a hard and important conversation to have.”
Sparrow said he’d received an invitation from Siekmann to meet, but has declined.
On Wednesday, the BC Assembly of First Nations also called for Siekmann’s ouster.