June 11 was an historical day for all Canadians. On that day, the Government of Canada made a formal statement of apology for the legacy of Indian residential schools in the House of Commons.
With that apology, Canada acknowledged the terrible wounds left by residential schools on individuals, families, and communities.
At that time, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion also apologized on behalf of the Liberal Party to those who survived residential schools, to those who died as a result of the decisions and laws enacted by previous parliaments, and to survivors who died waiting for these words.
“As the leader of the party that was in government for more than 70 years of the last century, I acknowledge our role and our shared responsibility in this tragedy,” said Mr. Dion.
“I am deeply sorry.”
We acknowledge the pain and suffering caused by the residential school policy and the wrong that was done by suppressing the history, culture, and identity of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples through the enforced removal and socialization of children.
The injustice visited on aboriginal children, families, and communities in the residential school system is a part of our shared history with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.
Thanks to the apology, reconciliation and healing also may become part of that history.
Developing a common understanding will be crucial to us moving as a nation, towards a genuine and lasting reconciliation with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, and building a better future for us all.
Building that better future means being fully committed to closing the prosperity gap between aboriginal Canadians and the rest of Canadians.
Before the last election, the previous Liberal government was instrumental in negotiating the $2.2-billion compensation package for survivors of Indian residential schools and also had committed to issuing an apology.
Our efforts will not end there. Our party will continue its efforts to ensure that all aboriginal Canadians—First Nations, Inuit, and Métis—share in the bounty of Canada.
Only by honouring this commitment can we hope to build a new relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.