Remain on Canada’s image and reputation

Experts say extensive coverage of the recent discoveries of hundreds of bodies near former residential schools in Canada by media outlets from around the world could tarnish the country’s image abroad.

From the US to France, UK, Spain and South America: Media from around the world covered the Cowessess First Nation press conference in southern Saskatchewan on Thursday. It was then announced that 751 unidentified graves had been discovered on the site of the former Marival boarding school, causing an uproar across the country, but also elsewhere in the world.

“It’s a phenomenon that transcends Canadian borders, so there is an interest [des médias internationaux] ”, recalls a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Montreal, Martin Papillon, who recalls that many countries have a heavy past linked to the abuses suffered by the indigenous peoples present on their lands.

Several major media outlets have indicated that this shocking discovery in Saskatchewan occurs less than a month after the remains of 215 children’s bodies were discovered at the end of May at another boarding school located in Kamloops, British Columbia. the world, based in Paris, stressed that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 described as “cultural genocide” acts committed in residential schools for the country’s indigenous population, which in some cases operated “until the 1990s”.

The BBC, for its part, recounted the “dirty conditions” in which thousands of children were “removed from their families” to enter boarding schools at the time. British media noted that “students were often staying in poorly built, poorly heated and unsanitary facilities”. daily CountryBased in Madrid, he referred to the “forced assimilation” and “physical abuse” of thousands of boarding school children in Canada. the relevant report It was still among the most widely read global articles on Friday night on the newspaper’s website, which has millions of readers. Media based mainly in Colombia and Peru also covered Thursday’s announcement.

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“I have the impression that the phenomenon of assimilation and extermination of the indigenous population may be called upon to occupy a more important place. [dans les médias] What preoccupied him so far with these discoveries,” Bernard Motolsky, a professor in the Department of Social and Public Communication at the University of Quebec in Montreal, predicted. pu entendre au fil des années, maintenant, “ce sont des corps que l’on retrouve”, ce qui marque davantage spirits.

polluted image

Mr Motulsky predicted that if similar discoveries occurred in the coming months near many of the country’s old residential schools, Canada’s “image and reputation” could be affected.

Canada defines itself as “a country of human rights, multiculturalism and respect for diversity,” Mr. Papillon recalls. “And there, we end up with an international image, which is a little doubtful,” he adds.

The bodies found in Kamloops and Saskatchewan could have the effect of prompting other countries to start researching their former boarding schools. These discoveries had the effect of “a stark reminder of the dark history of boarding schools in the United States,” USA Today reported on May 30. The US government has since announced its intention to investigate several boarding schools that operated on its territory until the 1960s in an effort to identify the children who died there.

International relations

Strong media coverage surrounding the country’s former residential schools may complicate Canada’s relations with certain countries, according to experts consulted. duty. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian also used the press conference to criticize Canada on Friday.

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With these discoveries [à Kamloops et en Saskatchewan], a dark chapter in the history of Canada is more and more unfolding before the entire world,” according to the speaker, who fired an arrow at the country, which “remains proud of its democracy and civilization.” A statement comes a few months after elected officials in the House of Commons in Ottawa accused China of committing genocide. against Muslim minorities in February.

Thus, the issue of boarding schools “may affect Canada’s ability to present itself as a [acteur] On the international stage, which defends humanitarian principles and human rights,” notes Mr. Papillon.

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