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Comparing vaccine passports to residential schools 'repugnant': B.C. chiefs

OTTAWA — The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations says it is "harmful and repugnant" that a People's Party of Canada candidate is comparing vaccine passports to residential schools.
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OTTAWA — The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations says it is "harmful and repugnant" that a People's Party of Canada candidate is comparing vaccine passports to residential schools.

Vancouver-Quadra PPC candidate Renate Siekmann sent a pamphlet to voters in her riding this week with "no vaccine passport" and "discrimination is wrong" written on a photo of Indigenous children at a residential school in 1880.

"Today my campaign sent out this literature to approximately 52,000 homes in Vancouver Quadra," Siekmann wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

"B.C.’s history hasn’t always been great, we must learn from the past and improve. This analogy may make some uncomfortable or angry but this is a hard and important conversation to have."

In a later tweet she said "now that I have your attention" and posted an article from the online Canadian Encyclopedia about the "pass system" implemented by the federal government in 1885, that required Indigenous people on reserves to get a pass from an Indian Agent when they wanted to leave their community.

"History is an important lesson," she wrote. "Don't let history repeat itself."

BCAFN Regional Chief Terry Teegee, however, said Siekmann's attempt to say a public health measure like vaccine passports is equivalent to the genocidal and violent practices inflicted on Indigenous Peoples shows an "immense depth of ignorance and lack of judgment."

“As First Nations, entire generations of our peoples were stolen from their families and communities," Teegee said in a statement. 

"They were tortured, physically and sexually abused, and murdered. They lost their languages and cultures, and thousands of our precious children never came home. 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.”

Teegee went on to say that "an inconvenient interruption in your social life to save lives during a deadly pandemic is not discrimination."

He is asking for an apology and said PPC Leader Maxime Bernier should fire Siekmann as a candidate. 

The PPC did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Siekmann said on Twitter she is "pro-vaccine" but that vaccine passports are a violation of human rights. 

She also on Thursday shared a tweet from Rebel News publisher Ezra Levant comparing the decision by the Alberta government to ban unvaccinated people from attending private gatherings indoors to Nazis going door-to-door searching for "unclean citizens."

"If you cannot see the writing on the wall, go re read the history books. Everyone," Siekmann wrote on her retweet, with the hashtag #VoteforHumanRights.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2021.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press