UBCIC Strongly Condemns Residential School Denialism Being Advanced at Municipal Level

News Release

April 2, 2024

UBCIC Strongly Condemns Residential School Denialism Being Advanced at Municipal Level

(xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh)/ Vancouver, B.C. – April 2, 2024) The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) stands with the Lhtako Dene Nation and is angered, disgusted and deeply disturbed that the Quesnel Mayor’s wife has been distributing a book promoting residential school denialism.

Mayor Paull’s wife Pat Morton has been circulating a book entitled Grave Error – How the Media Misled Us that indicates genocide did not occur at Residential Schools and essentially questions the very existence of Residential Schools and their well-documented harms against Indigenous peoples. The Lhtako Dene Nation sent a letter to the Quesnel Mayor and Council expressing their outrage and asking that Mayor and Council reaffirm the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding between the City and themselves. They’ve also asked to have some of their Elders, who were forced to attend Residential School, meet with the Mayor and Council to provide first-hand knowledge.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC President, stated “The UBCIC categorically rejects the denialism and ardent dissemination of misinformation put forward by the authors of this book, and perpetuated by members of the public and Pat Morton. We are concerned that this is just the tip of the iceberg and could represent a broader network of individuals connected to municipalities peddling hateful denialism and eroding trust in local government. Holocaust denialism has been widely documented and debunked as the work of people who feel threatened and choose to perpetuate long-standing stereotypes and hateful beliefs used to undermine the realities of history. UBCIC calls for all levels of government and the public to uphold the testimony of those with lived experience who survived and witnessed horrors at Residential Schools, the findings of experts, and the documentation of physical evidence captured in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report and by subsequent investigations by First Nations and partners at former Residential School sites across Canada.”

“Canada’s policy of forced assimilation of Indigenous children at Residential Schools was intentional and is widely documented. The pain of this denialism is deeply offensive and compounds the suffering that generations of survivors have already endured. UBCIC holds up survivors and their families who lived through atrocities, as well as the children who never made it home, and all those who are today harmed by the actions of those involved with the distribution of this book and related materials. We stand with you in the truth, we believe you, and we demand accountability for the crimes of Residential Schools which will not be shrouded off by the ignorance of a hateful few,” stated Chief Marilyn Slett, UBCIC Secretary Treasurer.

“The Lhtako Dene Nation has our full and unwavering support in calling on the Mayor to reaffirm their Memorandum of Understanding and to meet with their Elders who survived Residential Schools. UBCIC calls for Mayor Paull to condemn Residential School denialism, and calls for him and his wife Pat Morton to undergo cultural sensitivity training, to publicly apologize to Lhtako Dene Nation and to all survivors of Residential School, and to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and advance municipal policies that acknowledge the history and harmful legacy of Residential Schools,” concluded Chief Don Tom, UBCIC Vice-President. “Other mayors and political leaders who are responsible for championing reconciliation efforts, take this as a reminder that the company you keep matters; we will not permit the distortion of fact, hateful denialism in or near our political institutions, or the further harm of our people.”

UBCIC is aware that the Quesnel Mayor and Council will hear from Grave Error contributor Frances Widdowson during their council meeting today at 5 p.m., and is shocked that the Quesnel Mayor and Council are promoting further misinformation. Ms. Widdowson was fired from Mount Royal University based on her atrocious comments on Canada’s residential school system and the Black Lives Matter movement and continues to question the findings bravely shared by Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc and other First Nations about unmarked graves as being profit motivated. UBCIC is completely opposed to the Quesnel Mayor and Council wasting time by providing Ms. Widdowson space on a taxpayer funded agenda, rather than focusing on proven facts and working with First Nations toward reconciliation.


Media inquiries:

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, 250-490-5314

Chief Don Tom, Vice-President, 604-290-6083

Chief Marilyn Slett, Secretary-Treasurer, 250-957-7721

UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

For more information, please visit www.ubcic.bc.ca


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