(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver BC) The BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit and Union of BC Indian Chiefs call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to offer an apology to survivors of Indian Residential Schools following inflammatory comments made by Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice.
Minister Prentice recently commented to reporters that the Residential School Settlement will not include an apology to survivors despite recent apologies by Prime Minister Harper for the Chinese head tax and to Maher Arar. He insisted that an apology is not necessary for residential school survivors as the underlying objective was to provide education despite the horrific trauma caused to families, children, and communities.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs stated, “The United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines acts of genocide including efforts causing serious mental harm, deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction and/or forcibly transferring children to another group. Residential Schools most definitely contain a genocidal dimension with its efforts to deprive First Nations of their language and culture to assimilate First Nations into so-called mainstream society. Therefore, to suggest that the generations of physical and sexual abuse can be excused under the guise of ‘education’ is the most astonishingly ludicrous statement I have ever heard a Minister of the Crown make in over my thirty plus years of being involved in Native politics. I would say that an apology is in order.”