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the Métis Nation wants in

Source: Hansard June 12, 2008

Apology to Former Students of Indian Residential Schools

Clem Chartier
president of the Métis National Council

Prime Minister, members of Parliament, friends, and Canadian citizens, it is a great day.

On behalf of the Métis Nation, I want to express a deep sense of thanks and gratitude to the Prime Minister today for offering this most sincere apology to those people who have experienced the Indian residential schools system.

It has been a long time coming, but it has been well received. I hope and I pray that it will resonate in the communities of those people who have been affected.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Indian Affairs know that although I am very sincere and happy, perhaps, that this is happening, I also feel deeply conflicted, because there is still misunderstanding about the situation of the Métis Nation, our history and our contemporary situation.

We have had serious discussions with the Minister of Indian Affairs. We have agreed, and I believe the Prime Minister is supportive, that we will, based on this apology today, address those issues that are outstanding to our people, the Métis. I believe those statements made today about the dark days of the assimilation policies and I believe those actions that took place in this House will be addressed and hopefully corrected in the future.

I really do feel conflicted, because I am one of the survivors of a Métis residential school, which was no different from Indian residential schools except for the question of who paid. As for who paid, it was those young people who went there, people like Don, people like me. We paid.

I hope and I do believe sincerely in the words of the minister that we will address this. I said that the Métis Nation would be here to share this day with those people who have waited for so long. We want to celebrate, and we do celebrate, with them, with you, with all Canadians, because this is a day for all Canadians. It is a day for us to move forward.

I know deep in my heart that the party leaders and the Prime Minister who spoke today spoke with sincerity, not with the theatrics of the Commons. That has been set aside. I can see that. I can feel that. I know that it is deep and it is real.

Finally, Prime Minister, the Métis Nation of western Canada, which has been excluded from many things by the workings of this House and its policies, wants in.

Thank you.

On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the leaders of Canada’s opposition parties apologized to former students of Indian residential schools. Breaking from “usual practices” in the House of Commons, all parties unanimously consented to having representatives of the communities affected by the government’s residential school policy make statements in response to the ministerial statement of apology to former students of Indian residential schools.

The first residential schools were opened when Canada was still a colony in the 19th century. Once the country gained independence, these schools were under the control of the Department of Indian Affairs. Native children had to attend. The last school closed in 1996 – the same year that the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples issued its final, damning, report.

The text is from Hansard.

statements in the House of Commons | June 11, 2008

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39th Parliament, 2nd Session, edited Hansard, number 110 | June 11, 2008


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