MPs back motion calling on government to recognize residential schools program as genocide

A motion from NDP MP Leah Gazan passed with unanimous consent

NDP member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre Leah Gazan rises during question period in the House of Commons in June 2021. The House gave unanimous consent Thursday in favour of Gazan's motion calling on the federal government to recognize Canada's residential schools as genocide. [Sean Kilpatrick | Canadian Press]

Members of Parliament gave unanimous consent Thursday in favour of a motion calling on the federal government to recognize Canada's residential schools as genocide.


Leah Gazan, the NDP member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre, introduced the motion following Question Period Thursday afternoon. Gazan brought forward a similar motion in June last year, but it did not receive unanimous consent.


"Today I lift up survivors, families, and communities who have sacrificed so much in order for people across Canada to know the truth; that what happened in residential schools was a genocide. I'm grateful to parliamentarians who unanimously passed my motion recognizing the truth of Canada's history," Gazan said in a statement.


"I look forward to working with the government to ensure the will of Parliament is honoured by formally recognizing residential schools as a genocide. Survivors deserve no less."

Pope described schools as genocidal

The motion comes after Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, described the schools as genocidal following a trip to Canada this summer, though he didn't use the word during the visit.


"Yes, it's a technical word, genocide. I didn't use it because it didn't come to mind. But yes, I described it. Yes, it's a genocide," Francis said in July.

Pope Francis described Canada's residential school system and its forced assimilation of Indigenous children as genocide. Brock Pitawanakwat, the co-ordinator of the Indigenous Studies program at York University, called the Pope's comments &