Friday, June 13, 2008

The Hero's Behind the Residential School Apology

The Margaret Mead truism that we should never underestimate the ability of a small group of people to change the world, and accept the fact that change is always done that way. This reality is so evident as what caused the Government of Canada apology this past week. The identity and roles the small group of people who were behind this event has come to the fore with this Globe and Mail background story on Canada’s apology for the tragedy of residential schools.

The pressure for the apology comes from sources that are indeed a small group of people, including the former and current Conservative Ministers of Indian Affairs, Jim Prentice and Chuck Strahl along with Metis and Conservative Senator Gerry St. Germain added his considerable voice.

The efforts were trans-partisan as former Liberal MP Gary Merasty had added pressure with his House of Commons motion for an apology that was passed with Conservative support. Then there was the effective effort of the Leader of the NDP, Jack Layton and his personal influence in helping the Prime Minister work through the idea of an apology and its potential positive impact. Prime Minister Harper was persuaded and took a personal interest and is reported to have written most of the apology himself. Prime Minister Harper was also very generous in his praise of Jack Layton’s role in his preamble to the apology.

This is quality governance and good governing at its finest. It is reassuring to see that it can still trump politics. Thanks to all those who made June 11, 2008 a date that will go down in Canadian history. It is hopefully a turning point and a place-marker of where we once again began to be worthy our Canadian mythology of an inclusive, welcoming, caring and compassionate society.