A Canadian MP candidate compared vaccine passports to residential schools where thousands of Indigenous children died, and First Nation leaders want her removed

Canada tribute
A statue called ‘The Children’ honors all the children who attended Indigenous residential schools, which Renate Siekmann compared vaccine passports to. Dave Chidley/Anadolu Agency via Getty Image
  • Vancouver MP candidate Renate Siekmann is under fire for comparing vaccine passports to residential schools.
  • She distributed flyers that featured a photo of one such school and the words “no vaccine passport.”
  • Indigenous leaders blasted the flyers, calling the comparison “harmful and repugnant.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Indigenous leaders in Canada are calling for the removal of a Vancouver MP candidate after she distributed flyers comparing COVID-19 vaccine passports to residential schools where hundreds of native children died.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Renate Siekmann, a candidate for the right-wing People’s Party of Canada, said she sent the flyers out to 52,000 homes in the Quadra district. The pamphlets featured a photo of children and staff at a residential school from the late 1800s, with the words “discrimination is wrong” and “no vaccine passport” emblazoned over it.

“This analogy may make some uncomfortable or angry but this is a hard and important conversation to have,” read Siekmann’s tweet.

Her flyers refer to church-run residential schools dating back to the 19th century, which Indigenous children were sent to after being taken away from their families. Thousands of children have died at these institutions, where they faced abuse and were prohibited from speaking their native languages, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Hundreds of children’s graves were recently found on some of these school sites.

Shortly after Siekmann published her tweet, the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) released a statement denouncing the flyers.

“As First Nations, entire generations of our peoples were stolen from their families and communities. They were tortured, physically and sexually abused, and murdered. They lost their languages and cultures, and thousands of our precious children never came home,” said BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee in a statement on Wednesday.

“Claiming that a public health measure, such as a vaccine passport, is somehow comparable or equivalent to violent and genocidal practices is harmful and repugnant,” Teegee continued.

The statement demanded Siekmann be removed as a party candidate and asked party leader Maxime Bernier to publicly speak out against the flyers.

Siekmann seems to have doubled down on her opinions on Twitter since the BCAFN’s statement.

“The BC Assembly of First Nations is engaged in blatant gaslighting, receives significant government funding, and has been corrupted by people who fail to understand what freedom means,” she tweeted in quotes on Thursday evening, after a VICE article asked her for comment.

VICE also reported that Siekmann, who immigrated to Canada from Germany when she was a teenager, has compared vaccine passports to Nazi Germany.

Siekmann said on Twitter that she supports COVID-19 vaccines and is pro-choice, while also tweeting that she believes “in sovereignty of one’s body” and that “all People are essential and discrimination of any type is wrong.”

Her party is vocal in its opposition to vaccine passports and mandates, which several Canadian provinces have enacted, but has previously said it is not anti-vaccine or anti-mask.

Siekmann, the People’s Party of Canada, and the BCAFN did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.