AMC Supports Legislation Criminalizing Denialism of Residential Schools

November 28, 2023

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) calls on Justice Minister Arif Virani and the federal government to move forward on a recommendation made by special interlocutor, Kimberly Murray, to make Residential School denialism punishable under the criminal code. This legislation provides a legal mechanism to effectively address actions that deny and undermine the experiences of First Nations citizens who attended these institutions.

“This is an opportunity for Canada to demonstrate an honest commitment to reconciliation,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “For this country to move forward equitably and for all people – we all need to be on the right side of history. Part of that means accepting, universally, that the actions taken against First Nations were morally and ethically wrong. And to deny the existence of these institutions as a form of violence that continues attempts to remove First Nations people from participating in telling the truth of the history of this country.”

First Nations Leadership across the country constantly contend with the troubling aftermath of denialism concerning the atrocities endured at Indian Residential Schools. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recorded that a minimum of 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children were enrolled in federally funded IRS from its inception in the 1880s to the closure of the last school in 1997 at Kivalliq Hall in Nunavut (Rankin Inlet).

“As initiatives to reveal unmarked grave sites progress, various challenges surface, encompassing issues such as jurisdictional control, ownership, and land use, especially when burials are situated on private property,” expressed Grand Chief Merrick. “This, consequently, has heightened denialism, criticism, and hate speech, suggesting that these atrocities never occurred. This undermines the collective efforts of all First Nations and Canadians working to mend our relationship and initiate a new chapter in this country.”

The AMC steadfastly upholds its commitment to assist Chiefs whose First Nations are suspected of housing unmarked graves. It remains dedicated to advocating for survivors of the IRS and acknowledges ongoing restorative efforts. Drawing parallels to the Jewish community’s acknowledgment of history through the National Holocaust Monument Act, the AMC deems it essential to establish a comparable commemoration for Indian Residential Schools and calls on the Justice Minister to move forward with criminalizing IRS denialism.

For more information, please contact:

Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) people.