Juliet O’Neill, with files from Tim Shufelt, The Ottawa Citizen
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on the defensive yesterday over the remarks of a Conservative MP who undermined his historic apology to aboriginal peoples by questioning “the value for all this money” survivors of residential schools are eligible to receive under a compensation settlement.
Pierre Poilievre, the Nepean-Carleton MP who serves as parliamentary secretary, expressed regret for his “hurtful and wrong” comments in the House of Commons just moments before question period. But his brief apology had little impact on Liberal MPs, who branded his remarks disgraceful and racist and demanded he step down as parliamentary secretary to the president of the treasury board.
Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine said in an interview the remarks were “just really unfortunate” distractions from Mr. Harper’s apology, which was, in part, “about casting aside old attitudes and old stereotypes” like the ones Mr. Poilievre expressed. Chief Fontaine, who praised the apology during an appearance in the Senate with other aboriginal leaders, said the government apology remains “the important moment,” despite the MP’s remarks.
Mr. Poilievre also suggested aboriginals need to work harder rather than receive more money. He appeared unaware the $1.9-billion compensation settlement is the result of years of negotiations by government, churches and aboriginal representatives. The talks are aimed at reducing and containing a growing number of lawsuits over the mistreatment, including widespread physical and sexual assaults, of several generations of aboriginal children.
Posted in Canada, election, Memorial, Ontario, politics, Quebec, racism
Tagged Aboriginal, abuse, apology, canada, Catholic, christian, Christian schools, Christianity, church, Cree, english, french, healing, ignorant, Indian, Indian Residential School, Indian Residential School Apology, Mr. Poilievre, native reserves, native schools, pm, priest, Prime Minister, racist, reconciliation, reserves, residential, school, Stephen Harper, system, truth, truth and reconciliation
One of the most acrimonious issues to result from the Treaty process is the dark legacy of the residential school system. The purpose of the residential schools in Canada was to educate and civilize or westernize the First Nation peoples in or
der that they adopt a more western – that is European – lifestyle. Separating the children from their parents and forcing religion on them, it was believed, was the only means by which to achieve this “civilizing” of the First Nations peoples.
In a historic and solemn day, Aboriginal students who endured abuse and torment in Canada’s residential schools will finally get a formal apology from the Canadian government today from the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. The Canadian government acknowledged the physical and sexual abuse that occurred in the now-defunct network of federally financed, church-run residential schools and this will mark the first time a Prime Minister has apologized.
Posted in Canada, Memorial, Multiculturalism, Ontario, racism
Tagged Aboriginal, Add new tag, Anglican, apology, British, Burnt Church, canada, Canadian Government, Canadian History, Catholic, Children, church, church-run residential schools, Civilize, Europe, European, First Nation, Gustafsen Lake, History, Indian, indigenous, Inuit, Ipperwash, Kids, Métis, Native, Native Indian, North American Indians, Oka, Oka Crisis, Prime Minister, Residential Schools, sexual abuse, Stephen Harper, Treaty, Westernize