Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered a long overdue apology Tuesday, for the past policy of Residential schools, a historic speech made in the House of Commons and delivered across the nation at numerous gatherings from coast to coast.
In his address, Harper recounted the painful era of resettlement of First Nation children, taken from their families by force and sent far from their home communities. Over the years, reports of abuses while attending those schools and the long lasting effects of those policies have haunted the nation over the decades and have never been formally addressed until this week.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister apologized formally for the actions of the government of the day and for the long path the survivors have had to travel, in order to reach this day of recognition of a horrific wrong that was never addressed by successive governments.
Prime Minister Harper's apology speech part one
Prime Minister Harper's apology speech part two
National Chief Phil Fontaine's response to the apology
While Harper rose in the House of Commons in Ottawa, across the Northwest those that were the victims of that past policy and their families watched in special sessions of remembrance, locally Northwest Community College and the Friendship House hosted a luncheon and viewing session for survivors, with counsellors available for those overcome by the event and the memories it may have brought back.
The Daily News featured the background on Tuesday's session at Northwest Community College as the front page story of the day. You can find that article immediately below, following that local story we provide links to a number of stories from papers across the nation with commentary and coverage of Tuesday's historic day.
MANY GATHER TO HEAR PM'S 'LONG OVERDUE' APOLOGY
Screening of historic announcement at college the chance for many to reflect
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Thursday, June 12, 2008
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Pages one and two
Those impacted by the horrors of the residential school system braced themselves against pain as they listened to Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologize yesterday.
"I don't know what this man is going to say. I don't even know what is going to happen to me. A lot of things are going to come up," said Murray Smith of the Friendship House Elders.
Speaking as an individual and survivor, he said there was no way to prepare for the historic occasion.
"I want to caution my fellow residential school survivors of the possibility of what may awaken in your hearts today, what may happen to you. Is this a chance to step out of the darkness and in to the light or is this apology going to drive us deeper into the darkness?"
People gathered at Northwest Community College to watch as Harper rose in the House of Commons to officially apologize for the government's policy of taking children away from their families, attempting to kill their culture and leaving them in environments where they often suffered abuse and neglect.
In Prince Rupert, Northwest Community College and the Friendship House arranged a lunch, a viewing of the apology and for counsellors to be on hand from the Northwest Band Social Workers Association to help people deal with their reactions.
James Bryant, who welcomed people to the traditional territory of the Allied Tribes of Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams, described the apology as "long overdue."
And what is important, he said, is how this is going to be taken by the survivors. An apology won't wipe away what happened.
"It's going to take a long time for healing to take place, for reconciliation," said Bryant.
There are some 80,000 living survivors of the 132 residential schools that were operated by government and churches across Canada.
"And what about all those who never had the opportunity to hear this, what about all those little graves that are out there who don't have a voice?"
"What about the elders that died that never got compensation ... how are families going to feel?" said Smith.
Besides the reaction of survivors, there was a hope among many that the apology is broadcast by the international media and that the truth about the system finally comes to light.
"My daughter asked me the question, 'Is the truth finally going to be heard? Will all those stories you have been talking about, your experiences of residential schools, will it blow that open?'" said Smith. "I hope the world news picks up those stories, that they did wrong."
In the Northwest, there were schools in Greenville, Kitmataat, Metlakatla and two in Port Simpson, although children were also sent to schools out of the region. The last residential school to close in the Northwest was the Metlakatlata Indian Residential School in 1962.
National Post-- Native leaders praise apology
National Post-- Majority of speech written by Harper
Naitonal Post-- Tragic history unites the House
Globe and Mail-- 'I accept the Prime Minister's apology'
Globe and Mail-- Canada's expression of sorrow
Globe and Mail-- Whose truth? What reconciliation?
Globe and Mail-- Once more, with feeling ... but will it make a difference?
Montreal Gazette-- Apology is the first step to true reconciliation
Toronto Star-- Apology alone cannot close a gaping wound
Toronto Star-- Symbolic gestures have importance
Winnipeg Sun-- Many tears in Manitoba
Edmonton Journal-- Harper apology 'a beginning'
Calgary Herald-- 'Finally, we heard Canada say sorry'
Vancouver Sun-- A national call for healing
Vancouver Sun-- The Apology Decoded