June 11 2014 marks six years since Parliament offered an apology to former students of Indian residential schools and their families, and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Executive Committee is urging the Government of Canada to fulfill the spirit of the apology and work with First Nations toward real reconciliation that respects the Treaties and First Nation jurisdiction, title and rights.
“Six years ago on June 11, Prime Minister Stephen Harper rose in the House of Commons and stated that the attitudes and objectives behind residential schools were wrong and will never prevail in Canada again. And yet these same attitudes and approaches that created the residential schools and sustained them for over 100 years continue to hold back First Nations and all of Canada from achieving real change,” said AFN spokesperson and Quebec/Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard. “Now more than ever we must see the Government of Canada bring life to the words of the apology and work with First Nations in the spirit of true reconciliation to address the many challenges before us. Reconciliation requires respecting and implementing First Nation and Aboriginal rights and title, the Treaties and jurisdiction in ways that will drive real change for First Nations peoples and communities.”
The historic apology offered to residential school survivors took place in the House of Commons June 11, 2008. It included a commitment by Parliament and all of Canada to join First Nations on a shared journey toward healing and reconciliation as set out in the 2007 Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA).
“We honour all former students of residential schools and their families, and continue to advocate to ensure they have the support they require for individual and collective healing,” said AFN Regional Chief Bill Erasmus who leads the national advocacy work in this area. “As set out in the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, the apology was ordered by the court and we continue to press the Government of Canada to uphold its full responsibility as set out in the agreement, including full disclosure of documents so that the proper truth-telling can take place. We strongly encourage First Nations and all Canadians to come together to educate each other about the significance of the Settlement Agreement and all its facets.”
The Government of Canada is currently taking applications for the final phase of compensation as outlined in IRSSA. Personal credits for education programming are being offered to recipients of Common Experience Payments for a one-time credit of $3000 (no cash value).
For more information on the Apology, the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement and personal credits for education watch “Moment of Reckoning – Turning the Page on a Dark Chapter of Our Shared History” – a short film documentary speaking to the significance these and other events in achieving reconciliation http://youtu.be/FlEhRy_m1kU.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations