Four years later, Harper’s apology for residential schools rings hollow for many


CDNBear
#1
Four years later, Harper’s apology for residential schools rings hollow for many

OTTAWA—Four years after Stephen Harper offered an unfettered apology to aboriginal peoples for residential schools, the prime minister is at a turning point in his relationship with First Nations, says National Chief Shawn Atleo.

Harper can either take major, collaborative action to erase the deep and lingering effects of a school system that separated 150,000 kids from their families, Atleo said, or he can persist in chipping away at policy with small, unilateral measures and making grandiose promises that amount to little else besides more procedures.

“We’re faced with a real moment of reckoning here,” Atleo said in an interview on the fourth anniversary of the apology.

“The rate and pace of change is too slow.”

On June 11, 2008, Harper stood in the House of Commons and delivered an emotional, historic speech that took full responsibility for government attempts to assimilate aboriginal children, causing great harm that has lasted for generations.

“There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian residential schools system to ever prevail again,” Harper said.

“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.”

To commemorate the fourth anniversary, Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan unveiled a stained-glass window by Metis artist Christi Belcourt that will eventually be installed in the House of Commons.

“I think its symbolism is just fine. What’s really required is action. Real change,” said Atleo, warning that the First Nations community’s patience with discussions about poverty, housing, resource-sharing and education is wearing thin.

Atleo is campaigning for a second term as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations in a race where his critics say he has not been tough enough on the Harper government.

He said the government can’t afford to alienate a major source of labour that lives on top of Canada’s ample natural resources at a time when Ottawa has made resource extraction a top priority.

Duncan, however, says history cannot be undone overnight.

“You have to take a step back,” he said in an interview. “We, I think, have many things to celebrate.”

Duncan pointed to compensation for former residential school students, the ongoing Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which encourages healing among survivors, as well as increased funding for child welfare and education.

“I’ve talked to many, many people for whom the apology was life-changing. It’s pulled many families together,” Duncan said.

“Of course, it hasn’t fixed everything. This was a terrible chapter in Canadian history.”

Harper’s apology acknowledged that the long-term effect of having generations of families pass through residential schools is that today’s families often lack crucial parenting skills.

“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,” Harper said.

But at the same time, the federal government is fighting in court to quash demands from First Nations organizations to fund aboriginal child welfare at the same level as provincial governments.

On education, demands that First Nations schooling be funded at the same level as provincial schools have been met with process — a task force that led to a report that led to some initial funding and promises for legislation down the road.

Indeed, crowds of First Nations school children marched in the street near Parliament Hill on Monday and in smaller groups across the country, demanding equal funding for education and telling Harper he should not need to apologize twice.

“Saying you’re sorry has to include taking real action to close the gap. And that has not happened,” said NDP critic Jean Crowder, who was part of the Ottawa march.

But the artist whose stained glass work was the government’s focus of the day begged the public not to be too cynical about the hard work needed to repair the relationship between aboriginal people and the rest of Canada.

“There will be people who will say, ‘What will a glass do when there are so many issues left to deal with?’” Belcourt said during the unveiling of the design of her artwork.

She estimated some 60,000 tourists a year would see the work in the House of Commons, and predicted it would serve as a constant reminder to politicians and the media of the collaboration that still needs to take place.

“Reconciliation is not just one-sided. Reconciliation is the two sides coming together,” she said. “So I would just like to ask Canadians to please consider this.”

First Perspective
 
petros
+2
#2
A piece on the hill is a must.

It beats three monuments in the middle of no ****ing where. It's time for Canada to face up to it's past.



 
Walter
+1
#3
How often do we have to apologize for this?
 
petros
+2
#4
Until it never happens again to someone else.
 
CDNBear
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by Walter View Post

How often do we have to apologize for this?

Not even once IMHO. But if you do, you might want to act sincere about it, post apology.
 
SLM
No Party Affiliation
+1
#6
Words are just words unless they are followed up by action. An apology is meaningless unless something is actually learned from the wrong that was committed and then the behaviour changes for the better.

So it's time to stop saying this but doing that.

And long past the time when real First Nations history needs to be taught in our schools.
 
CDNBear
+1
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by SLM View Post

And long past the time when real First Nations history needs to be taught in our schools.

I'll second that and add, Canadian history should be taught in schools as well.
 
petros
+2
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by SLM View Post

And long past the time when real First Nations history needs to be taught in our schools.

How about the real history of Canada period. So far we have had Natives, Africans, Chinese, Ukrainians and Japanese treated as second class citizens. Who is next?
 
CDNBear
+1
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

How about the real history of Canada period. So far we have had Natives, Africans, Chinese, Ukrainians and Japanese treated as second class citizens. Who is next?

Well if you believe the silliness posted by the Usual Suspects, the rest, under the Harper Nazi regime.
 
petros
#10
Not on my watch!
 
SLM
No Party Affiliation
+2
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

I'll second that and add, Canadian history should be taught in schools as well.

Yep.

Quote: Originally Posted by petros View Post

How about the real history of Canada period. So far we have had Natives, Africans, Chinese, Ukrainians and Japanese treated as second class citizens. Who is next?

Yep.

Although to clarify I wasn't just referring to teaching the history of what happened in the residential schools but all the history of the First Nations peoples. And yes even then we should be including all cultural groups that contributed heavily to the origins of this country.

It's just whenever I read about First Nations issues and the back and forth between Gov't & AFN and whatnot in the media, I'm struck by the thought that "How can we know where we are going or supposed to go, when most of us don't even really know where we've been?" We need to have the big picture.
 
CDNBear
+1
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by SLM View Post

It's just whenever I read about First Nations issues and the back and forth between Gov't & AFN and whatnot in the media, I'm struck by the thought that "How can we know where we are going or supposed to go, when most of us don't even really know where we've been?" We need to have the big picture.

Truer words could not be said!
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
+6
#13  Top Rated Post
As far as I'm concerned, you can't change yesterdays and you can't make proper amends to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of they who were offended by your grandparents. The sincerest of apologies is to ensure it never happens again and you don't look down your nose on anyone.
 
taxslave
Free Thinker
+4
#14
An apology by people that had no control over something that happened before they were born is meaningless. What is important is that we do not let history repeat itself.
The unfortunate fact is that the AFN is just another of many special interest group that is seeking a piece of the taxpayer's dollar. Most groups can make a good case as to why they should get the coin but there are many more groups than coins.
 
Cliffy
Free Thinker
+2
#15
When I watched Harper make that apology, I found it hollow then. It completely lacked sincerity. It was just another political speech "full of noise, signifying nothing".

I helped our school board set up the Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement and Aboriginal Studies Curriculum. After 2 short years, I find those responsible for implementing that curriculum don't get it. The point was to include all students and not isolate the native kids. But the bureaucratic language and methods of dealing with native kids and parents is doing exactly the opposite. All I think of is that it a cultural thing or part of public education's Political correctness. Treating native kids as special is isolating them as surely as taking them out of regular classes for native studies. But there is sure a lot of back patting going on at the teacher and administrative level.
 
taxslave
Free Thinker
+1
#16
When my son was in elementary school in Pt. Hardy in the mid 80's they were taught the local native language.
Problem is that bureaucraps have a habit of making a career out of any project they take on. The outcome is irrelevant so long as the process is seen to work.
 
Machjo
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by Walter View Post

How often do we have to apologize for this?

It's not an apology we should be giving, but rather just restitution for the damage done.

But if we're not to do that, then i guess multiple meaningless apologies are the next best thing?

Quote: Originally Posted by SLM View Post

And long past the time when real First Nations history needs to be taught in our schools.

You mean no more of the "We discovered the America's" but rather "We discovered one another"?

Quote: Originally Posted by Cliffy View Post

When I watched Harper make that apology, I found it hollow then. It completely lacked sincerity. It was just another political speech "full of noise, signifying nothing".

I helped our school board set up the Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement and Aboriginal Studies Curriculum. After 2 short years, I find those responsible for implementing that curriculum don't get it. The point was to include all students and not isolate the native kids. But the bureaucratic language and methods of dealing with native kids and parents is doing exactly the opposite. All I think of is that it a cultural thing or part of public education's Political correctness. Treating native kids as special is isolating them as surely as taking them out of regular classes for native studies. But there is sure a lot of back patting going on at the teacher and administrative level.

As far as I'm concerned, to ensure native kids have access to indigenous language education misses the point; it should be that anyone who would like to learn the local indigenous language have that chance, within reason of course, but certainly a little more effort than we're putting in now.

Here in Ottawa I'd gone to the local public libarry to find self-instruction resources of decent quality in Algonquin on a number of occasions; I've since given up since the resources are just not there. Quite shameful really that quality slef-instruction grammars and dictionaries are not available in the local indigenous language at the local library!

I recognize the government cannot doeverything and that we as citizens must help in whatever way we can. At the same time however, the government should at least meet us halfway by at least publishing some decent language resources for those of us who are willing to learn it.

meanwhile we can find funding for the CBC, Heritage Canada, CIDA? Certainly we could introduce a temporary moratorium on funding for those three organizations and redirect that funding to the creation of self-instruction resources in the local indigeous languages for those of us who are willing to put in the effor to learn them.
 
SLM
No Party Affiliation
+2
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

I
You mean no more of the "We discovered the America's" but rather "We discovered one another"?

I mean the real history, the truth. The good, the bad, the ugly. Pre and post European settlers arrival in North America.
 
Machjo
+2
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by SLM View Post

I mean the real history, the truth. The good, the bad, the ugly. Pre and post European settlers arrival in North America.

Sounds good.

And that's the other thing. I remember in history class we learnt european history until "we discovered the Americas", and only then started learning North American history. Clearly a colonial attitude. Rather than learning about the history of the Americas from the start.
 
SLM
No Party Affiliation
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

Sounds good.

And that's the other thing. I remember in history class we learnt european history until "we discovered the Americas", and only then started learning North American history. Clearly a colonial attitude. Rather than learning about the history of the Americas from the start.

I know, it's all about the perspective. Not unlike the 1812 thread.

I can remember a former co-worker, years back, who'd booked a trip to Europe and was looking forward to seeing a place that had hundreds of years of history to it. Now not to knock Europe, I'd love to go someday, and they do have a rich history but I was struck with the thought at the time that we have hundreds of years of history here. It's just that no one really knows about it or really stops and thinks about it.
 
Goober
Free Thinker
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by Walter View Post

How often do we have to apologize for this?

An apology

1- I - We - Canada - are sorry for what was done - Complete injustice was visited upon tens of thousands-

2 - It will not happen again

3- Critical- what can be done to rectify past events-

4- That takes time, understanding the differences- finding common ground- respect - money for health care to education- job training- clean water - proper nutrition-
Walter it is a long list.
 
Cliffy
Free Thinker
+1
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by SLM View Post

I mean the real history, the truth. The good, the bad, the ugly. Pre and post European settlers arrival in North America.

I studied the history of this area for 20 years and after putting up with the ignorance prevalent here, particularly with the Histerical Society, I wrote the history of the Sinixt peoples going back to the last Ice Age. But the parts that people were most in denial about were since contact. What the Histerical Society didn't want anybody to know was that the first white miners and rail builders slaughtered the Sinixt living in Nakusp. The old families in this town were and are still pissed at me for exposing that blight on our history.

Stuff like that happened all across the Americas but you only hear about how them savages slaughter Custer and his ilk. I suppose things are changing but I am not too familiar with what is taught these days. In our district we teach general native culture in the elementary schools and a little more advanced in high school. The main thing that interests me is that the kids know the Sinixt are not extinct and that eventually the government is going to be pressured into rectifying this situation.
 
The Old Medic
Conservative
#23
An apology is utterly meaningless.

But, the government should assure that ALL Canadians have equal funding for education, health care, etc. They should provide all Reserves with the authority to control their own resources, enact their own laws that would apply to anyone on the Reserve, etc.

Then, they should look back on just how the government screwed a LOT of Métis and Natives out of their lands, took farms and other developed properties, refused to honor titles that had been granted by the Hudson's Bay Company when it controlled the land, etc., etc. Those wrongs should be redressed by compensation to the heirs when possible, and to the various ethnic groups when it is not.

And ALL of the history, including the extreme exploitation done by the government; the "appointing" of friendly people as "Chiefs" to sign one sided treaties, etc., etc. should be mandatory teaching in every elementary, middle and high school in the country.
 
taxslave
Free Thinker
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by The Old Medic View Post

An apology is utterly meaningless.

But, the government should assure that ALL Canadians have equal funding for education, health care, etc. They should provide all Reserves with the authority to control their own resources, enact their own laws that would apply to anyone on the Reserve, etc.

Then, they should look back on just how the government screwed a LOT of Métis and Natives out of their lands, took farms and other developed properties, refused to honor titles that had been granted by the Hudson's Bay Company when it controlled the land, etc., etc. Those wrongs should be redressed by compensation to the heirs when possible, and to the various ethnic groups when it is not.

And ALL of the history, including the extreme exploitation done by the government; the "appointing" of friendly people as "Chiefs" to sign one sided treaties, etc., etc. should be mandatory teaching in every elementary, middle and high school in the country.

Not unlike they did to the Japanese during WW2
 
CDNBear
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

It's not an apology we should be giving, but rather just restitution for the damage done.

I don't believe in buying forgiveness.

Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

And that's the other thing. I remember in history class we learnt european history until "we discovered the Americas", and only then started learning North American history. Clearly a colonial attitude. Rather than learning about the history of the Americas from the start.

And what was taught when I was in school, was wrong or completely whitewashed, when it came to First Nations.
 
The Old Medic
Conservative
#26
The Japanese were mistreated for 5 years. The First Nations and Métis have been mistreated for almost 300 years. There is a MASSIVE difference.

This would not be "buying forgiveness". It would be redressing wrongs.
 
CDNBear
+2
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by The Old Medic View Post

It would be redressing wrongs.

You don't redress wrongs by calculating a financial figure based on level of abuse. That's called punitive damages.

To redress wrongs you bring the culprits to justice. You physically right the wrongs. You put in place measures that will prevent it from happening again. You tell the masses what happened, why it happened, who was responsible for it, in short, you be honest about it!
Last edited by CDNBear; Jun 17th, 2012 at 10:45 AM..
 
captain morgan
Bloc Québécois
+1
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by SLM View Post

An apology is meaningless unless something is actually learned from the wrong that was committed and then the behaviour changes for the better.

For an apology to be anything other than just words, it must also be accepted.

Quote: Originally Posted by taxslave View Post

An apology by people that had no control over something that happened before they were born is meaningless. What is important is that we do not let history repeat itself.

Quite accurate in the grand scheme
 
SLM
No Party Affiliation
+2
#29
Quote: Originally Posted by captain morgan View Post

For an apology to be anything other than just words, it must also be accepted.

Should it be blankly accepted though if there are some, justifiably, who don't see the actions following up the words?

Don't get me wrong, I see where both sides of any issue have their faults, but at the same time this was not an apology that was simply made by one party to another party. Because it was issued by the Government of Canada I feel like it was representing me, as a citizen of Canada, and therefore I feel justified in expecting a certain level of behaviour from the issuer. I have no control over the acceptance, but I can and do have an expectation of standard on behalf of the issuer of the apology.