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Wednesday, 11 June 2008

I’m sorry….

I watched the official apology from the Government of Canada to the aboriginal peoples of Canada for the residential schools system. http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/truth-reconciliation/.

I have to say that I found it much more emotional than I thought I would. Today words, to a large extent, have lost much of their impact. Awesome. Racist. War. Shame. Sorry. These can be tossed around without a lot of regard to their actual meaning or context. Today was different.

It was full, open and sincere. No wiggle words. No doubts. Harper said that there was no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the residential schools system to ever prevail again.

I thought Mr. Dion’s apology was important as well. As he mentioned, the Liberal Party of Canada was the ruling party of most of the last century, had a great responsibility for the continuance of the system.

I support the apology.

First of all, it is the start of a Truth and Reconciliation process that will explore this issue in more detail and hopefully bring a sense of closure to this dark period in our history.

The schools were a cruel system to attempt to “kill the Indian in the child” that backfired. A clumsy Empire’s attempt to sanitize a race they saw as beneath them. That, coupled with the physical and sexual abuse that many found at these schools, created decades of mistrust and dysfunction.

There are a lot of issues within the aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities that will still need to be overcome before we join hands and walk off into the sunset together, or whatever hokey symbolism that some folks have used to describe it.

As Grand Chief Phil Fontaine called the apology: ‘the achievement of the impossible’. Now that we've achieved the impossible hopefully the other issues we need to tackle together will be easier to overcome.

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