Please note that the Museum’s approach has evolved since this statement was issued in 2013.
We recognize that the colonial experience in Canada, from first contact to the present, constitutes genocide against Indigenous peoples. The Indian residential school system was one key component of this genocide.
To see how we acknowledge this genocide today, please visit:
In light of recent media reports, I wish to make the following statement to clarify the Museum's position on use of the word "genocide" in relation to treatment of Canada's Aboriginal peoples.
The Museum believes this discussion provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about the nature of human rights violations in our own backyard. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, as a venue for education, reflection and dialogue, strongly supports and encourages this conversation.
In the Museum, we will examine the gross and systemic human rights violation of Indigenous peoples. This will include information about the efforts of the Aboriginal community, and others, to gain recognition of these violations as genocide – and we will use that word. We will look at the ways this recognition can occur when people combat denial and work to break the silence surrounding such horrific abuses. In one such exhibit, Residential Schools will serve as the recognizable "entry point" for visitors.
We have chosen, at present, not to use the word "genocide" in the title for one of the exhibits about this experience, but will be using the term in the exhibit itself when describing community efforts for this recognition. Historical fact and emerging information will be presented to help visitors reach their own conclusions.
While a museum does not have the power to make declarations of genocide, we can certainly encourage – through ongoing partnership with the Indigenous community itself – an honest examination of Canada's human rights history, in hopes that respect and reconciliation will prevail.
President and CEO,
Canadian Museum for Human Rights