During the announcement for an installation to commemorate the survivors of the residential-school system, Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan stated that the residential-school system was not in fact an act of genocide but rather the product of an “education policy gone wrong”.

According to the CBC, while Duncan admitted that had the system been allowed to continue it would have been “lethal” to Aboriginal culture, he simply does not see it as an act of cultural genocide.

Duncan made these statements despite the fact that from the 1840s to the 1990s Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their homes by the RCMP and then transported to church-run schools where they were brutally punished for speaking their Native languages while being subjected to other verbal, physical and sexual abuse as well as very poor living conditions. While it has been documented that many children died attending residential schools, the exact number is unknown.

Duncan’s statements may just be a matter of opinion as many experts have already argued that Canada’s residential-school system by definition meets the UN Secretariat Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide definition of cultural genocide.