Indigenous leaders are calling for the removal of Vancouver-Quadra PPC candidate Renate Siekmann over her flyer comparing vaccine passports to residential schools. The flyer was mailed to over 52,000 residents and included a photo of Indigenous children at a Methodist residential school in 1880.
It read: "Discrimination is wrong" and "No vaccine passport."
The BC Assembly of First Nations called the comparison "harmful and repugnant."
"The analogy falls flat, trivializing the experience of Indigenous peoples within (the) residential school system to a public health measure doesn't work," BCAFN Regional Chief Terry Teegee told Global News.
"(It) is in no way the same in the same ballpark, if you will, in terms of what are people experienced in terms of the genocidal policies that were imposed on our indigenous people, some of which never made it home, as we've seen in the mass graves that are in the camps and residential schools."
In response to the controversy, Siekmann tweeted: "BC's history hasn't always been great, we must learn from the past & improve. This analogy may make some uncomfortable or angry, but this is a hard and important conversation to have."
Siekmann continued: "I’m Pro vaccine, Pro-choice. Everyone should be free to make their own medical decisions. Forcing people into an injection is a violent act. There can be no consent under duress. There is no medical or epidemiological case for vaccine passports."
Teegee said the response to the pandemic was "an inconvenience" versus "being ripped away from your homes and brought into an institution to be assimilated — there is no comparison."
"Reaching for very far-right conspiracy theories and false information on a number of issues, and comparing it to (the) Holocaust … genocidal acts we’ve seen in history, including Indigenous peoples, is very dangerous. It’s spreading false information and perhaps even trivializing some of the experiences by those that experienced those harmful acts."
As of Wednesday, 86.1 percent of eligible British Columbians received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The province said fully-vaccinated residents made up only 12.7 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past two weeks.
BC found unvaccinated people are 37.9 times more likely to be hospitalized than their fully-vaccinated counterparts.