The B.C. Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) is calling for the People’s Party of Canada to remove a Vancouver candidate who has distributed a pamphlet comparing the horrors of residential schools to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The front of Vancouver Quadra candidate Renate Siekmann’s flyer shows an image of Indigenous students at a residential school, along with the slogan “Discrimination is wrong. No vaccine passport.”
The BCAFN described that juxtaposition as an offensive false equivalence, and called on PPC leader Maxime Bernier to denounce Siekmann and remove her from the party’s slate.
“As First Nations, entire generations of our peoples were stolen from their families and communities. They were tortured, physically and sexually abused, and murdered. They lost their languages and cultures, and thousands of our precious children never came home,” BCAFN Regional Chief Terry Teegee said in a statement.
“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.”
As of Monday, B.C. is requiring proof of vaccination for access to a wide range of non-essential services and activities, including restaurants, fitness facilities and sporting events.
The new vaccine card was implemented as the province faces a major spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations during the pandemic’s fourth wave.
Teegee said there is no comparison between the vaccine cards and the harms caused by residential schools, and he believes Siekmann “has shown an immense depth of ignorance and a severe lack of judgment” by suggesting there is any similarity between the two.
“More disheartening is that many Canadians believe that public health measures make them victims of prejudice,” he said.
“An inconvenient interruption in your social life to save lives during a deadly pandemic is not discrimination.”
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Siekmann said she was not available for an interview on Wednesday, and referred a reporter to a Twitter thread in which she stands by her flyer.
“This analogy may make some uncomfortable or angry but this is a hard and important conversation to have,” she wrote.
On the back of the same pamphlet, Siekmann asserts that “discrimination based on vaccination status is both illegal and a violation of the Nuremberg Code,” an argument advanced by many anti-vaccine activists and opponents of vaccine mandates.
The Nuremberg Code is a set of ethical guidelines governing medical experimentation introduced in response to Nazi atrocities.
Marie Griffin, a resident of the Vancouver Quadra riding, said she was horrified to receive the flyer in her mail, and described it as “disinformation” that could potentially mislead voters who aren’t fully informed.
“Those children went through a totally different experience, a horrid experience. And then this person with the flyer is usurping that and equating a vaccine passport with the experiences that these children went through. I was very upset about that,” Griffin said.