your thoughts?

On Wednesday, June 11, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood in the House of Commons to deliver an apology to Aboriginal peoples – in particular survivors of native residential schools – with these words:

“I stand before you, in this chamber so central to our life as a country, to apologize to aboriginal peoples for Canada’s role in the Indian residential schools system.

Mr. Speaker, I stand before you today to offer an apology to former students of Indian residential schools. The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history.

For over a century, the residential schools separated over 150,000 native children from their families and communities.”

the Apology
Were you in Ottawa, on Parliament Hill, watching TV from home, listening to it on radio, reading about it the next day? What did you think? After a while to let things sink in a bit, what DO you think now?
Any thoughts?



Filed under Aboriginal peoples, Canada, Canadian politics, Indigenous rights

3 responses to “your thoughts?

  1. The fact that Mr. Harper delivered this from “this chamber so central to our life as a country” tells us much about how deeply sorry he (and presumably we) are for “Canada’s role in the Indian residential schools system.” This is political exercise. Mr. Harper cannot even bother to remove himself from the ivory tower that is the house of commons to make this apology in person? Perhaps he would like to visit some Aboriginal communties and explain how sorry he is, followed by an explanation as to why his government would not support even the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

    Yes, an apology has been long overdue, but shouldn’t that apology be accompanied by real action? By giving the Aboriginal nations within Canada the right to govern themselves, to manage their own landbases and their own lives? What was the last thing Mr Harper’s government has done to truly advance the cause of Native peoples?

    I shudder to think how much more fuzzily Mr. Harper will be thought of by people who mistake symbolism for real action, now that he has this heartfelt apology under his belt.

  2. This response from Quebec Native Women’s Association/Femmes Autochtones du Québec puts things in perspective:

  3. shmohawk

    I especially appreciate the specifics:

    The actions of the Canadian Government in opposing the United Nations
    Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples makes the apology feel
    hollow. Their opposition to the UNDRIP perpetuates the insidious, archaic
    Indian Act that continues to discriminate and deny Aboriginal nations
    their rights. The facts and arguments reflecting the manner in which the
    Canadian Government continues to undermine the rights of Indigenous
    peoples, can be found in Amnesty International’s 2008 Annual Report.

    We therefore urge the Government of Canada to adequately fund Indigenous
    languages in a manner that is equivalent to the support given to the
    French and English languages; to adequately consult Aboriginal peoples in
    good faith on legislation that addresses issues such as matrimonial real
    property, Bill C-21, Bill C-47; Bill C-30 and to eliminate the sexual
    discrimination that exists under Section 6 of the Indian Act.

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