Book burning for Canada indigenous reconciliation sparks backlash
Burning Tintin books deemed offensive to indigenous peoples? The 2019 book burning at a group of schools in Canada, only revealed this week, has sparked controversy amid an election campaign.
The Conseil scolaire catholique Providence, which manages 30 schools in southwestern Ontario, identified and removed 5,000 children's books it claimed conveyed prejudices about indigenous peoples.
Among the titles were "Tintin in America," "Asterix and the Indians" and three Lucky Luke comic books, as well as novels and encyclopedias.
Some were burned during a reconciliation ceremony, Radio-Canada revealed Tuesday.
"It was a gesture of reconciliation with the First Nations and a gesture of openness towards other groups represented in the school district and in society," Lyne Cossette told the public broadcaster, citing works that contained "obsolete and inappropriate content."
Faced with a public backlash, the school board said Wednesday it had suspended the removal of books from its libraries. Nearly 200 books are currently under review.
"I am never in favor of burning the books," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a campaign stop, while also highlighting the importance of reconciliation with the First Nations.
On Twitter, leader Erin O'Toole promised that "a Conservative government would be committed to reconciliation."
"But the road to reconciliation does not mean tearing down Canada. I strongly condemn the burning of books," he said.
The leader of the New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh, meanwhile espoused changes to how children are taught.
Canada was shaken by recent discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves of indigenous children forced to attend residential schools set up by the government to assimilate them into the mainstream from the late 1800s to the 1990s.
Students were physically and sexually abused by headmasters and teachers who stripped them of their culture and language.
And indigenous communities continue to deal with the lasting trauma of the government's failed policy.