Government of Canada Officially Apologizes for Indian Residential Schools Fiasco
The apology was read to a packed House of Commons in which many aboriginal leaders had been invited to sit. The apology ceremony was broadcast live on TV, radio, and the Internet.
From the 19th century until very recently, in total, about 150,000 aboriginal, Inuit and Métis children were removed from their communities and forced to attend remote boarding schools run by Christian congregations under government contract. Countless children were abused physically or sexually.
The assumption behind the system was that aboriginal Canadian cultures were unable to adapt to modern industrial society. The schools were intended to aggressively assimilate the children and Christianize them. They were frequently punished for speaking their ancestral tongues and their culture was denied or "beaten out" of them. As the Prime Minister admitted in his apology today, the real goal of the system was "to kill the Indian in the child."
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has produced a very thorough package of resources on the question of residential schools under the title Truth and Reconciliation: Stolen Children.
Earlier Library Boy posts on the residential schools issue:
- Implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (September 20, 2007): "The federal government announced this week the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Former students who were subjected to abuse in Indian Residential Schools will be able to submit applications for compensation until September 2011. Aboriginal children were often grabbed away from their families to be shipped off to the boarding schools that tried to assimilate them."
- Ontario Aboriginal Judge To Head Truth and Reconciliation Commission (April 28, 2008); "The Canadian government announced today that Justice Harry LaForme of the Ontario Court of Appeal will head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is to examine the legacy of decades of abuse of aboriginal children in residential schools (...) The Commission's official work of hearing testimony from former students and surviving school staff is to start in June and last 5 years. Its job will be to establish an official historical record of what was done to Native children in the residential school system."