Inaccurate Term in Report about Residential Schools Breaches Broadcast Codes, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, February 23, 2022 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a news report on CTV Kitchener’s (CKCO-DT) CTV News at Five in which residential schools were called “residential camps”. The CBSC determined that this incorrect terminology constituted a breach of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and the Radio Television Digital News Association of Canada’s (RTDNA) Code of Journalistic Ethics.

The report aired on August 16, 2021 and was about red paint being splashed on the Queen Victoria statue in a local park. The anchor stated that this was the second time paint was splashed on the statue that summer and the first time had occurred on Canada Day “when many Canadians were reckoning with the country’s colonial past following the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential camps. The words ‘All Children’s Lives Matter’ were also written on the side of the vandalized statue.”

A viewer complained that the inaccurate use of the term “camps” disseminated the falsehood that residential schools were comparable to summer camps and that it was harmful and disingenuous to make that suggestion. She wrote that during a time of reconciliation, she expected better of a Canadian broadcaster and sought an on-air apology. CTV noted that it had covered local Indigenous issues in other broadcasts. It acknowledged the error, but noted that it was not the result of any ill intent.

The CBSC’s English-Language Panel examined the complaint under the clauses of the CAB Code of Ethics and RTDNA Code of Journalistic Ethics relating to accuracy, correction of errors, bias, fairness and respect. The Panel concluded that, given the long-standing use of the term “residential schools”, CTV was clearly inaccurate in referring to those institutions as “camps”. The Panel also concluded that CTV should have promptly corrected the error. With respect to fairness and bias, the Panel found that the connotation of the word “camp” was ambiguous; the complainant interpreted it to mean “summer camps” while other viewers might have interpreted it to mean “concentration camps”. Given the Panel’s inability to ascertain the writer’s intent, it did not find a breach for bias or unfairness. It did, however, conclude that the erroneous term demonstrated disrespect towards a vulnerable group, contrary to a provision in the RTDNA Code.

The CBSC was created in 1990 by Canada’s private broadcasters to administer the codes of standards that they established for their industry. The CBSC currently administers 5 codes which deal with ethics, equitable portrayal, violence, news and journalistic independence. Around 800 radio stations, satellite radio services, conventional and discretionary television services across Canada participate in the Council.

– 30 –

All CBSC decisions, codes, and related information are available on the CBSC’s website. For more information, please visit