Letter to the Editor: Arming campus community against rhetoric of racist posters

Posters placed around campus by white supremacist vandals this past year have been on people’s minds on College Hill and across the province. In writing this letter, we want to bring your attention to the exact flaws in the message these organizations are pushing. Pointing out that these people are racists and bigots is accurate, but unless it is made clear as to why, the door is open for them to convince others that they are in the right. We are writing this letter to the campus community to arm them against the rhetoric of these bullies and to prevent their message from spreading.

The person who put up these posters made the argument that Canadian settler society is the victim of assimilation due to immigrants from other countries (though they list no specifics) being allowed into Canadian society. The assailant references the United Nations definition of genocide outlined in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, though they do so incorrectly. Article II of the convention states:

“In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

As it can be seen, people migrating from one group to another is not listed in this definition. However, The Canadian government is guilty of each section of this article, yet we will focus on residential schooling, as it was brought up specifically on one of these posters. The Canadian residential school system violates Article II e) by definition, as attendance at residential school was mandatory despite the consent of the children’s parents. Therefore, the quote on the poster mentioned is largely unimportant in arguing over the structure and purpose of residential schooling. The structure and purpose of residential schooling was the act committed with intent to destroy the Indigenous nations. This is actual genocide, contrary to what these posters are trying to convey.

As we have displayed, the information on these posters is factually false and/or misleading, on top of this, despite what these assailants seem to think, their implications that white people are under threat by the mere presence of non-white people is blatantly racist.

To individuals concerned about these attacks reading this, it would be beneficial to take up learning the genocidal history of Canada to better understand the challenges forced onto Indigenous peoples, as these uneducated posters have neglected to do.

Sincerely, The students and faculty of the STU Native Studies department

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