Settler colonial genocide is always somewhere else: Reid Gerbrandt, Truth Before Reputation: An Analysis of Canadian Political Discourses on Settler-Colonialism and Genocide in China and Canada, MA dissertation, University of Manitoba, 2023


Abstract: The discovery of 215 potential unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in May 2021 sparked one of the last big debates on settler colonial genocide in Canada. On June 10, 2021, NDP MP Leah Gazan presented a motion to declare the Indian Residential School System (IRSS) genocide. However, it did not gain unanimous consent as politicians from several political parties voted against it. This was surprising as only a few months earlier Parliament had voted to recognize the ongoing Uyghur crisis in China genocide. What made this recognition significant was that several processes of group destruction that were part of the IRSS are evident in the Uyghur crisis, and several politicians even identified Uyghur destruction as settler-colonial in nature. The questions remain: why did Canadian politicians view settler-colonialism in China as a process of genocide, while avoiding this label for settlercolonialism in Canada? And what discursive strategies did they employ to highlight genocide in one context while minimizing it in another? Using the frameworks of conceptual constraint and “blame games,” this thesis examines how Canadian politicians portray China as a stereotypical “Villain” nation while upholding Canada as a “Hero” nation. It will also show how these views are maintained in the public sphere, and why we need to continue to monitor this latter discourse despite the Canadian House of Commons finally recognizing the IRSS as a genocide in October 2022.

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