11 June 2008
On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered an historic formal apology today to former students of Indian Residential Schools and sought forgiveness for the students’ suffering and for the damaging impact the schools had on Aboriginal culture, heritage and language.
"The treatment of children in Indian Residential Schools is a sad chapter in our history," Prime Minister Harper said. "Today, we recognize this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country. The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly."
Today’s apology reinforces numerous other government initiatives designed to address the tragic legacy of Indian Residential Schools, including the ongoing implementation of the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement which includes: a Common Experience Payment; an Independent Assessment Process; Commemoration Activities; measures to support healing; and the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
"The Government recognizes that the absence of an apology has been an impediment to healing and reconciliation," said Prime Minister Harper. "Years of work by survivors, communities and Aboriginal organizations culminated in an Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These are the foundations of a new relationship between Aboriginal people and other Canadians, a relationship based on knowledge of our shared history, a respect for each other and a desire to move forward together with a renewed understanding that strong families, strong communities and vibrant cultures and traditions will contribute to a stronger Canada for all of us."