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30 June 2008
12 June was the 12th day of the twelfth month of the 2nd year of Canadian national consciousness rising to invincibility, as indicated by the following press reports:
12 June 2008
Text of Prime Minister Harper's apology to the First Nations of Canada in the House of Commons (11 June 2008) Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood in the House of Commons Wednesday and apologized to all the people of the First Nations of Canada for the residential schools system that operated in this country. Here is the text of his address:
Mr Speaker, I stand before you today to offer an apology to former students of Indian residential schools. The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history.
In the 1870s, the federal government, partly in order to meet its obligation to educate aboriginal children, began to play a role in the development and administration of these schools. Two primary objectives of the residential schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions, and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture. These objectives were based on the assumption aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, 'to kill the Indian in the child'. Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.
Most schools were operated as 'joint ventures' with Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian or United churches. The government of Canada built an educational system in which very young children were often forcibly removed from their homes, often taken far from their communities. Many were inadequately fed, clothed and housed. All were deprived of the care and nurturing of their parents, grandparents and communities. First nations, Inuit, and Metis languages and cultural practices were prohibited in these schools. Tragically, some of these children died while attending residential schools and others never returned home.
The government now recognizes that the consequences of the Indian residential schools policy were profoundly negative and that this policy has had a lasting and damaging impact on aboriginal culture, heritage and language. While some former students have spoken positively about their experiences at residential schools, these stories are far overshadowed by tragic accounts of the emotional, physical . . . abuse and neglect of helpless children, and their separation from powerless families and communities. The legacy of Indian residential schools has contributed to social problems that continue to exist in many communities today.
It has taken extraordinary courage for the thousands of survivors that have come forward to speak publicly about the abuse they suffered. It is a testament to their resilience as individuals and to the strength of their cultures. Regrettably, many former students are not with us today and died never having received a full apology from the government of Canada. The government recognizes that the absence of an apology has been an impediment to healing and reconciliation.
Therefore, on behalf of the government of Canada and all Canadians, I stand before you, in this chamber so central to our life as a country, to apologize to aboriginal peoples for Canada's role in the Indian residential schools system. To the approximately 80,000 living former students, and all family members and communities, the government of Canada now recognizes that it was wrong to forcibly remove children from their homes and we apologize for having done this.
We now recognize that it was wrong to separate children from rich and vibrant cultures and traditions that it created a void in many lives and communities, and we apologize for having done this.
We now recognize that, in separating children from their families, we undermined the ability of many to adequately parent their own children and sowed the seeds for generations to follow, and we apologize for having done this.
We now recognize that, far too often, these institutions gave rise to abuse or neglect and were inadequately controlled, and we apologize for failing to protect you. Not only did you suffer these abuses as children, but as you became parents, you were powerless to protect your own children from suffering the same experience, and for this we are sorry.
The burden of this experience has been on your shoulders for far too long. The burden is properly ours as a government, and as a country. There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian residential schools system to ever again prevail.
You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey.
The government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly. We are sorry.
In moving towards healing, reconciliation and resolution of the sad legacy of Indian residential schools, implementation of the Indian residential schools settlement agreement began on September 19, 2007. Years of work by survivors, communities, and aboriginal organizations culminated in an agreement that gives us a new beginning and an opportunity to move forward together in partnership.
A cornerstone of the settlement agreement is the Indian residential schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This commission presents a unique opportunity to educate all Canadians on the Indian residential schools system. It will be a positive step in forging a new relationship between aboriginal peoples and other Canadians, a relationship based on the knowledge of our shared history, a respect for each other and a desire to move forward together with a renewed understanding that strong families, strong communities and vibrant cultures and traditions will contribute to a stronger Canada for all of us.
Assembly of First Nations national chief Phil Fontaine's response(11 June 2008) - The response of Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apology to residential school survivors:
Prime Minister, Chief Justice, members of the House, elders, survivors, Canadians, for our parents, our grandparents, great grandparents, indeed for all of the generations which have preceded us, this day testifies to nothing less than the achievement of the impossible. This morning our elders held a condolence ceremony for those who never heard an apology, never received compensation, yet courageously fought assimilation so that we could witness this day. Together we remember and honour them for it was they who suffered the most as they witnessed generation after generation of their children taken from their families' love and guidance. For the generations that will follow us, we bear witness today in this House that our survival as First Nations peoples in this land is affirmed forever.
Therefore, the significance of this day is not just about what has been but, equally important, what is to come. Never again will this House consider us the Indian problem just for being who we are. We heard the Government of Canada take full responsibility for this dreadful chapter in our shared history. We heard the Prime Minister declare that this will never happen again. Finally, we heard Canada say it is sorry. Brave survivors, through the telling of their painful stories, have stripped white supremacy of its authority and legitimacy. The irresistibility of speaking truth to power is real. Today is not the result of a political game. Instead, it is something that shows the righteousness and importance of our struggle. We know we have many difficult issues to handle.
There are many fights still to be fought. What happened today signifies a new dawn in the relationship between us and the rest of Canada. We are and always have been an indispensable part of the Canadian identity. Our peoples, our history, and our present being are the essence of Canada. The attempts to erase our identities hurt us deeply but it also hurt all Canadians and impoverished the character of this nation. We must not falter in our duty now. Emboldened by this spectacle of history, it is possible to end our racial nightmare together. The memories of residential schools sometimes cut like merciless knives at our souls.
This day will help us to put that pain behind us. But it signifies something even more important: a respectful and, therefore, liberating relationship between us and the rest of Canada. Together we can achieve the greatness our country deserves. The apology today is founded upon, more than anything else, the recognition that we all own our own lives and destinies, the only true foundation for a society where peoples can flourish. We must now capture a new spirit and vision to meet the challenges of the future. As a great statesman once said, we are all part of one 'garment of destiny'. The differences between us are not blood or colour and 'the ties that bind us are deeper than those that separate us'. The 'common road of hope' will bring us to reconciliation more than any words, laws, or legal claims ever could. We still have to struggle, but now we are in this together. I reach out to all Canadians today in this spirit of reconciliation.
The Ottawa Citizen - 'New dawn' in race relations (12 June 2008) Amid tears and solemn silence, burning sage and banging drums, aboriginal leaders hailed Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apology for the residential school system as a turning point in the history of relations between natives and other Canadians. Making parliamentary history by speaking on the floor of the House of Commons, representatives of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples welcomed the apology. Mr. Harper used five languages—Ojibwa, Cree, Inuktutuk, French, and English—to apologize to the estimated 87,000 living survivors of the schools and their families and communities. Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine, wearing full Ojibway regalia and headdress, said the apology marked 'a new dawn' in race relations. Inuit leader Mary Simon also said she believed 'a new day has dawned' and, like M�étis leader Clement Chartier, told the survivors, MPs, and others in the packed galleries that he considered the apology a sincere one. Hundreds of people watched on a giant TV outside under the Peace Tower. 'It's a very historical moment and I hope it's the start of a new relationship,' said Peter Garrow, director of education for the Assembly of First Nations. Following the speeches, Mr Harper and Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl took part in a smudging ceremony alongside some elders. As a smouldering dish was brought before the prime minister, and an elder swished the smoke toward him with a feather, Mr Harper fanned the smoke over his head, his face, and his chest, as if washing with water, and rested his hand on his heart.
CBC News - PM cites 'sad chapter' in apology for residential schools (11 June 2008) Mr Harper's speech was followed by a statement from Liberal Leader Stephane Dion. 'Today's apology is about a past that should have been completely different,' he said. 'But it must be also about the future. It must be about collective reconciliation and fundamental changes. 'It must be about moving forward together, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, into a future based on respect.' NDP Leader Jack Layton called it an important moment for Canada. 'It is the moment to finally say we are sorry and it is the moment where we start to begin a shared future on equal footing through mutual respect and truth.'
The day began with a sunrise ceremony on an island in the Ottawa River behind Parliament Hill, where about 100 people lit a sacred fire and said prayers for former residential school students who didn't live to see the historic event. Overseen by the Department of Indian Affairs, residential schools aimed to force aboriginal children to learn English, and adopt Christianity and Canadian customs as part of a government policy called 'aggressive assimilation'. There were about 130 such schools, with some in every territory and province except Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. In September, the government formalized a C$1.9 billion compensation plan for victims. The government has also established a truth and reconciliation commission to examine the legacy of the residential schools. The commission is scheduled to begin its work this month.
CBC News - Aboriginal leaders look to future after historic apology (11 June 2008) Following the Prime Minister's statement, First Nations leaders called for a new era in aboriginal relations. Five aboriginal leaders on the floor took turns speaking, most emphasizing the possibilities of the future. Mary Simon, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said the event symbolized Canada's commitment to reconciliation and building a new relationship with aboriginal people—including First Nations, Metis, and Inuit—across the country. 'I am also filled with optimism that this action by the government of Canada and the generosity in the words chosen to convey this apology will help us all mark the end of this dark period in the collective history as a nation,' Ms Simon said. Another aboriginal leader, Patrick Brazeau congratulated Harper for being the first Canadian prime minister to formally apologize. The chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples called Harper's decision the humane, moral, and right thing to do.
The Globe and Mail - 'We are sorry' (12 June 2008) Prime Minister Stephen Harper had yet to utter a single word when the cheering began. There were many smiles. But aboriginal eyes in the House of Commons room began to tear when the Prime Minister acknowledged the ongoing, generational impacts of residential schools. 'We now recognize that, in separating children from their families, we undermined the ability of many to adequately parent their own children and sowed the seeds for generations to follow,' he said. Known as the generational effect of the schools, it is the lesser-told story. Many children who never set foot in one have grown up with parents who never learned that children need hugs. Some grew up with parents and relatives who learned the ways of abuse at the schools. 'You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey,' Mr Harper concluded.
Five aboriginal leaders, seated in a native restitution circle with six former residential school students, were then given the unprecedented opportunity to stand in the middle of the room and speak. When Inuit Tapiriit leader Mary Simon spoke, she turned to face the Prime Minister directly. 'I wanted to demonstrate to you that our language and culture is still strong,' she said in Inuktitut, thanking Mr Harper for having the courage to apologize. 'There have been times in this long journey when I despaired that this would never happen. But after listening to the Prime Minister and the leaders of the political parties, I'm filled with hope and compassion for my fellow aboriginal Canadians.'
The National Post - A good day for Canada and Harper (12 June 2008) The Prime Minister, it was said, met with survivors of the programme and wrote much of his text himself. He appeared to be speaking from the heart. The impression was of genuine contrition for the decades of misguided and, at times, malicious policy that saw five-year-old children taken away from their parents. As a father of two young children, this, in particular, appeared to affect the Prime Minister.
The Toronto Star - Harper 'sorry' for native residential schools (12 June 2008) The apology was full of emotional resonance, and most of the residential school survivors and their descendants on Parliament Hill for the event expressed joy. NDP Leader Jack Layton and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion also gave emotional speeches. 'I am so very sorry we took away your children. I am sorry we did not value you as parents, or trust and respect you,' Dion said.
The Toronto Star - Editorial - Credit to Harper for this apology (12 June 2008) Striking an unusual non-partisan chord, Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday gave credit to NDP Leader Jack Layton for pressing for an apology. . . . 'For the past year and a half, he has spoken to me with regularity and great conviction on the need for this apology,' said Harper. 'His advice, given across party lines and in confidence, has been persuasive and greatly appreciated.' But Harper also deserves credit for delivering a heartfelt apology. Praise was given also to the Prime Minister for reversing his position of just 24 hours earlier and adopting Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's suggestion of allowing native leaders to respond to the apology inside the House of Commons. Their presence—including, memorably, National Chief Phil Fontaine in a full headdress—added to the solemnity of the occasion.
Reuters Canada - Canada apologizes for abuse of native children (11 June 2008) Prime Minister Stephen Harper, at one point fighting back tears, told a Parliamentary chamber packed with legislators and aboriginal representatives that there could be no excuses for what happened at the church-run schools, which mainly operated from the 1870s to the 1970s. Harper received a lengthy standing ovation when he finished. Twelve aboriginal representatives—including 104-year-old Marguerite Wabano, the oldest school survivor—sat on chairs in a circle in front of Harper. Harper later signed two copies of the apology, which will be hung in Parliament.
The Vancouver Sun - Respect and sincerity mark day of apology in Commons (12 June 2008) The government went out of its way to show respect to the native community, cancelling all other Commons business for the day. The 90-minute event Wednesday was solemn, tasteful, and emotional.
The Waterloo Record - Apology to natives is a hopeful sign (12 June 2008) Yesterday, June 11, 2008, was a historic day not only for Canada's Aboriginal citizens but for all Canadians. On behalf of the government of Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an apology to Aboriginal Canadians for the way they were treated in the residential schools. Although technically offering the apology on behalf of the government, Harper was in reality offering it on behalf of all non-Aboriginal Canadians.
These are a few of the news reports reflecting Canada's rising invincibility from the growing Yogic Flying groups across Canada and the Invincible America Assembly at Maharishi University of Management and Maharishi Vedic City, USA.
For further information on creating invincibility for your nation, please visit: www.globalgoodnews.com/invincibility.
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