CHIPPEWAS OF RAMA FN – (June 11, 2008) Canada needs to demonstrate the sincerity of its apology for the legacy of Indian Residential Schools by including First Nations people in the country’s future.
Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief John Beaucage joined thousands of Canadians who watched Stephen Harper’s 3,600-word apology to First Nation, Metis and Inuit people for what the Prime Minister called “a sad chapter in our history.”
“Our first thoughts today are for our Elders,” said Beaucage. “Many of them have suffered life-long physical and emotional pain because of their residential school experiences.”
“We are so proud that many Anishinabek lived long enough to hear Canada’s apology to them. But the true test of Mr. Harper’s words will be his government’s actions to help our children have a better future than their parents and grandparents.”
“We will know the apology was sincere when our citizens have access to the same homes, jobs, education and health care as all Canadians,” said Beaucage.
The Grand Council Chief said the Prime Minister’s apology sounded genuine and he was looking forward to upcoming bilateral discussions about Anishinabek Nation priorities.
Following the upcoming Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Assembly in Whitefish River FN, Beaucage will present Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl with a proposal to fund a language strategy that would include the establishment of a new immersion language institute to ensure the survival of the Ojiway language within the Anishinabek Nation. A language institute would help undo the loss of language experienced by most of the 80,000 residential school survivors.
“The devastating loss of language and culture suffered by First Nations people is one of the most tragic and long-lasting effects of the Indian residential school system. Today, many Anishinabek still are unable to speak their Native language,” said Grand Council Chief. “This apology needs to be the catalyst for restoring First Nations languages. Now that we’ve taken steps towards healing and reconciliation, Anishinaabemowin, our Ojibway language, cannot be allowed to die.”
The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.
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