Government of Canada apologizes to Aboriginal peoples

 — June 11, 200811 juin 2008

In what has been widely described as an historic opportunity for reconciliation with aboriginal peoples, the Prime Minister of Canada rose in the House of Commons on Wednesday to apologize to aboriginal peoples for the residential schools operated under government supervision by the Anglican, Presbyterian, United and Catholic churches. The apology was carried live on television and radio across Canada, and provided an opportunity for Canadians to pause to reflect on the legacy of these schools and the policies that they enacted.

Residential schools were developed in the 1870s as part of a policy of assimilation. As the PM explained: “Two primary objectives of the residential schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture. These objectives were based on the assumption aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, ‘to kill the Indian in the child.’ Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.”

In addition to the general apology for the residential schools, the PM also expressed five specific apologies:

“Therefore, on behalf of the government of Canada and all Canadians, I stand before you, in this chamber so central to our life as a country, to apologize to aboriginal peoples for Canada’s role in the Indian residential schools system.

To the approximately 80,000 living former students, and all family members and communities, the government of Canada now recognizes that it was wrong to forcibly remove children from their homes and we apologize for having done this.

We now recognize that it was wrong to separate children from rich and vibrant cultures and traditions, that it created a void in many lives and communities, and we apologize for having done this.

We now recognize that, in separating children from their families, we undermined the ability of many to adequately parent their own children and sowed the seeds for generations to follow, and we apologize for having done this.

We now recognize that, far too often, these institutions gave rise to abuse or neglect and were inadequately controlled, and we apologize for failing to protect you.

Not only did you suffer these abuses as children, but as you became parents, you were powerless to protect your own children from suffering the same experience, and for this we are sorry.”


The full text of the PM’s apology
Video of the PM’s apology (
In depth background information by the CBC on Residential schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (
Historic apology to residential schools students seen as a beginning (Anglican Journal)
After the Apology of June 11, 2008: A Prayer (United Church of Canada)
Canadian churches welcome PM’s apology on residential schools (ENI)

Church apologies:

Anglican Church of Canada’s Apology to Native People (August 6, 1993)
The Confession of The Presbyterian Church (adopted by the 120th General Assembly in 1994, it was presented to First Nations peoples at The Forks National Site in Winnipeg on October 8, 1994)
Apology to First Nations (United Church of Canada, 1986)
Apology to Former Students of Indian Residential Schools (United Church of Canada, 1998)

Posted: June 11, 2008 • Permanent link:
Categories: NewsIn this article: Canada, Indigenous peoples, Stephen Harper, Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Transmis : 11 juin 2008 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : Canada, Indigenous peoples, Stephen Harper, Truth and Reconciliation Commission

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