House of Commons Committee Calls on Government of Canada to Push for an End to China’s Residential Schools in Tibet and Sanction Chinese Officials

House of Commons Committee Calls on Government of Canada to Push for an End to China’s Residential Schools in Tibet and Sanction Chinese Officials

For Immediate Release
June 22, 2023

Ottawa – Canada’s parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development sounded the alarm on China’s residential boarding school system in Tibet on Friday, recommending the Government of Canada call on China to end the system, sanction Chinese officials responsible for its design and implementation, and draw attention to the issue through international diplomatic channels, including at the United Nations through Canada’s Ambassador, Bob Rae. The report said of Tibetan children and families impacted by the residential schools: “Canada has a responsibility to respond to the urgency of their needs and can play a leading role internationally in helping to end this system.”

In its report, “The Human Rights Situation of Tibetans and the Chinese Residential Boarding School and Preschool System,” [1] presented to the House of Commons on June 16, 2023, the Subcommittee recommends “the Government of Canada issue a statement that echoes the concerns of the four United Nations special rapporteurs in their November 11, 2022 communication [2] to the Government of the People’s Republic of China, calling for an end to the residential boarding school system in Tibet.”

The Subcommittee also recommends Ottawa utilize the Special Economic Measures Act to sanction People’s Republic of China officials who are responsible for the implementation of the residential boarding school and preschool system in Tibet; and to push for the issue to be at the forefront of discussions about China at the UN and other international fora.

The report points out that Canada, due to its own historical experience with residential schools, is “particularly well-positioned to lead on this issue, given its acknowledgment of the major harms caused by its own twentieth century system of residential schools designed to assimilate Indigenous populations into the majority Euro-Canadian population.” And that “[t]hough the world is only just beginning to hear of the human rights violations associated with the residential school system in Tibet, Tibetan families and children are only too aware of its implications for their survival as a distinct people.”

International concern about the residential school system has been building [3] since a Tibet Action Institute report, released in December 2021 [4], revealed that Chinese government policies are coercing at least three out of every four Tibetan students aged 6-18 – approximately 800,000 – from across historical Tibet [5] into a vast network of colonial boarding schools. In addition, more than 100,000 four- and five-year-old children are estimated to be separated from their parents and living in boarding preschools [6] for at least five days in a week. [7] Tibetan parents are compelled to send their children to these state-run boarding schools due to a lack of alternatives and the highly repressive political environment. The schools function as sites for re-molding children into Chinese nationals loyal to the Chinese Communist Party. Students must study primarily in Chinese, are barred from practicing their religion, and are subjected to a highly politicized curriculum intended to make them identify as Chinese. 

Dr. Gyal Lo, a Tibetan scholar and education expert, said:

“I have seen the residential schools in Tibet with my own eyes, and the situation is very grave, especially for the youngest preschool age children. On behalf of Tibetans in Tibet, I thank the Committee members for their diligent research and bold recommendations. I appeal to the Government of Canada to act on these urgently as it will make all the difference for Tibetan children and their families, not to mention the survival of our language and culture.”

Lhadon Tethong, Director of Tibet Action Institute, said: 

“We wholeheartedly welcome the strong leadership shown by the Human Rights Subcommittee and urge the Government of Canada to heed the Committee’s urgent call for bold action. Few nations can appreciate the devastating impact of colonial residential schools better than Canada, and as the Committee itself has stated: the time to act is now.”

Chemi Lhamo, Campaigns Director of Students for a Free Tibet, said:

“Article 2(e) of the Genocide Convention states that forcible child transfer committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, amounts to genocide. As a Tibetan Canadian who has been subjected to transnational repression by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the recommendations of the report are a great start to holding the Chinese government accountable for its insidious policies aimed at wiping out Tibetan identity.”

Sherap Therchin, Director of Canada Tibet Committee, said: “This report presents an opportunity for our Government to adopt a more-focused Tibet policy and address the root cause of human rights violations in Tibet which is China’s political stronghold including the imposition of cultural policies.”



Gyal Lo, PhD, Educational Sociology +1 (647) 619-9821

Lhadon Tethong, Tibet Action Institute, +1 (917) 418-4181

Chemi Lhamo, Students for a Free Tibet, +1 (647) 804-1821

Sherap Therchin, Canada Tibet Committee +1 (613) 483-5107



  1. On June 16, 2023, The Human Rights Situation of Tibetans and the Chinese Residential Boarding School and Preschool System Report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development was presented to Canada’s House of Commons, available at:
  2. On November 11, 2022, four UN Special Rapporteurs issued a communication to the Government of the People’s Republic of China, available at:
  3. On November 30, 2022, Co-Chairs of the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights calling for a UN investigation into the colonial boarding school system in Tibet, available at: On February 6, 2023, Four UN Special Rapporteurs issued the media release China: UN experts alarmed by separation of 1 million Tibetan children from families and forced assimilation at residential schools, available at:,%2C%20UN%20experts*%20warned%20today On March 6, 2023, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) echoed these concerns and called for China to “abolish immediately the coerced residential (boarding) system imposed on Tibetan children…”, available at: Since then, several governments have echoed the CESCR’s concerns and recommendations, including Switzerland and Germany. On May 30, 2023, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) raised concerns about the Chinese Government’s coercive residential school system in Tibet and called for it to be abolished:
  4. Tibet Action Institute, “Separated From Their Families, Hidden From the World: China’s Vast System of Colonial Boarding Schools Inside Tibet,” 2021, pg. 17-21, available at: 
  5. Historical Tibet includes the Tibetan provinces of Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang, which the Chinese government split into new administrative divisions in the 1960s: the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures within Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. When the Chinese government references Tibet, it is referring to the TAR, which contains less than half the Tibetan population.  
  6. In China these programs are described as “kindergarten.” In Tibetan areas, preschool education consists of at least two years of Mandarin-medium instruction, misleadingly called “bilingual education.” 

Tibet Action Institute “Eyewitness: China Operating Mandatory Boarding Preschools Across Tibet, 2022:

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