Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Apology for Canada Is Meaningful and Well Done. Will It Be Well Received?

The Apology today was our political leaders, both the House of Commons partisan and the national aboriginal leadership, at their very finest. I want to specifically thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the authenticity and sincerity he personally conveyed in articulating the depth of our national shame and in detailing the sad and sorrowful reasons for which we need to apologize.

Canada was proud to be recognized as the best place in the world to live by the United Nations Human Development Index for about 6 straight years. We were quickly relegated to 6th place once the lives and plight of our aboriginal peoples were included in the UN evaluation. That re-evaluation underscores the consequences of our collective shame and for our failings of aboriginal peoples as exemplified by the Residential School tragedy.

Grand Chief Phil Fontaine said this day is "...a testimony to the achievment of the impossible." Mary Simon of the Inuit said that today this is the “dawning of a new day.” There is a need for us to find a new way to go forward and to commit ourselves to develop more mutual trust and respect. That is going to be so necessary before we can overcome that part of our shared history and the abject injury that has been wrought upon so many aboriginal people.

This day will be iconic in the history of this country. The struggle for truth and reconciliation starts today but we have an auspicious start. Well done and thank you to all those who made "the impossible" happen and all those political and aboriginal leaders who spoke today and made it so meaningful.