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Apology to native people must end 'denial of truth'

An open letter on residential schools to the Prime Minister from Chief Phil Fontaine

Phil Fontaine, April 22, 2008

In the Oct. 16, 2007, Throne Speech, your government promised to apologize for residential schooling for First Nations, Métis and Inuit children which led to profound harms. Every expression and word of the apology will be of great importance to our peoples and will be carefully studied, as will its timing and place. After 150 years of waiting, nothing less than a complete, unencumbered and honest apology for this dark period in our shared history will do.

An apology acceptable to survivors must be offered in the House of Commons where the Prime Minister will address Parliament, the nation and the world. It must be an event as significant and meaningful as the apology to our brothers and sisters of the Stolen Generations of Australia, and our fellow Japanese Canadians. It must incorporate the ceremony and dignity that such a symbolic and historic occasion requires. The galleries must be filled with survivors, their families, as well as church and government representatives who will bear witness.

The content of the apology must end denial of truth and history. It must raise the awareness about the residential school policy and its disastrous consequences, admit that it was wrong, accept responsibility and provide us with solemn assurances that it will never happen again. More..