Thursday, June 12, 2008
when is 'sorry' too late?
yesterday, the harper govenrment made a stand in the house of commons, and offered an official apology to the former students of native residential schools in canada - a federal financed program that helped to instiutionalize the assimilation of, and racism and apathy toward the plight of, generations of first nations people.
the prime minister's speech was followed by similiar statements by the liberal, ndp and bloc quebecois parties.
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 in canada, with some in every territory and province except newfoundland, prince edward island and new Brunswick, from as early as the 19th century to 1996.
in september, the government formalized a $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 was scheduled to begin its work this month.