June 11th, 2013

Statement by Jean Crowder on the 5th anniversary of the Residential Schools Apology

Five years ago today, I was honoured to be one of the MPs in attendance when the Residential Schools Apology was made in the House of Commons.

This long-awaited apology officially acknowledged that the federal government’s policy of seizing Aboriginal children and placing them in residential schools to remedy the “Indian problem” was not only misguided but has had catastrophic repercussions that cut to the very core of their societies.

Every seat in the House gallery was filled on that day. Thousands more Canadians watched this historic event from Parliament’s front lawn and from their own homes and communities. As the late Elijah Harper put it, the apology lifted people’s hearts and opened doors to reconciliation.

New Democrats stand in solidarity with all those who want the apology to lead to lasting change.

We stand with the thousands who have attended Truth and Reconciliation Commission events. With stand with the many young voices who have joined the Our Dreams Matter Too campaign to bring equal funding to all schools in Canada. We stand with workers across this country who participate in National Aboriginal History Month events. We stand with all those who seek a change in perspective and a new relationship between First Nations, Inuit and Métis and other peoples of Canada.

As Jack Layton said that day, “reconciliation must be built through positive steps that show respect and restore trust. This apology must not be an end; it must be a beginning.”

New Democrats want to build on those words, and we urge the federal government to do the same by honouring its commitments to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. A move towards real reconciliation with Aboriginal peoples in Canada is long overdue.