Tomorrow in the House of Commons at three o’clock the Prime Minister will rise to make a formal apology to the thousands of men and women who suffered mistreatment as young residents of a state-funded Christian school system aimed at stripping them of their aboriginal culture and connections.

Two in three Canadians agree it’s high time « that the government and Canadians come to terms with its past actions. »

One in three Canadians disagree with the practice, endorsing the view that today’s government and society « shouldn’t be held accountable » for yesterday’s wrong-doing, so no apologies are necessary.

Generally speaking native leaders support the government’ action.

However, some of them have reservations. The Harper government refused to involve native leaders in the drafting of the apology. NDP leader Jack Layton protested the government’s excluding the native chiefs. The government « runs the risk of that kind of paternalistic attitude of ‘we-know-best and the first nations will just have to accept what we dish out.' »

Secondly, some native spokespeople charge that Ottawa should provide free transport for the survivors and others to attend the ceremony. Harper has relented and some native chiefs will be seated on the floor of the Commons. But they will not be allowed to speak. Why not?

Finally, shouldn’t the Harper government, as well as apologizing, make its policies toward native peoples more sensible? Recently, as part of the residential school monetary settlement, the Treasury doled out $20,000 to each adult in one smaller band. The most visible signs of this misguided munificence was an increase in drunkeness and suicide.

The National Post calls the apology « the greatest grovel in Canadian history. »

Perhaps the reason is that every time your turn around, some group pops up asking for a government apology.  Back in 1914 a group of Sikks was turned away from a port in British Columbia.  Today their descendants want compensation and an apology.

Do you agree the Harper government should apologize for the abuse of native children?

Or do you think the whole thing is in the past and should be forgotte?

Should the government have involved the natives in drafting the apology?

Should the government have provided transport for survivors to come to Ottawa for the ceremony?



  1. 1

    Excellent pun with the line « However, some of them have reservations ». I snorted coffee.

  2. 2
    Joe Agnost Says:

    « Do you agree the Harper government should apologize for the abuse of native children? »

    I don’t know about « should », but I think it’s fine (even nice). It’s history though and shouldn’t be held against the current CANADA.

    « Should the government have involved the natives in drafting the apology? »

    No… I don’t consult my wife for EXACTLY what she wants to hear from an apology – that would make the apology less sincere.

    « Should the government have provided transport for survivors to come to Ottawa for the ceremony? »

    Hell no!! Money money money…. it doesn’t grow on trees! I don’t see why they can’t watch the apology on TV like the rest of us.

  3. 3
    Chimera Says:

    Tomorrow, the country will be listening to a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    It’s not a grovel or an apology. It’s a political ploy, no more than that.

    The wrong people are involved.

  4. 4
    Cornelius T. Zen Says:

    Good morrow, all!
    Harper? Apologize? Ouch. I think my brain just exploded.
    Did the residential schools, with the implicit support of the government of the day, abuse native children in their care? Shame on them.
    Do they still do it, with the same silent partner in the wings? Shame on us.
    An apology is neither necesary, nor sufficient. Unfortunately, due to some idiosyncratic twists in the law, it is frowned upon to hand Harper a pistol with one round, and tell him to do the Honourable thing. Pity. So much could be forgiven. Does that make sense? CTZen

  5. 5
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Yesterday I was just about to send a comment when all hell broke lose outside and all went dark inside. Well 28 hours later the lights and the computer are back. So here goes.
    The real apology would have been for Harper and company to sign the UN Charter of Aboriginal Rights and then act upon it. Money is not the answer either. The compensations paid to former boarders, 20 000$ each, only lead to more alcohol consumption and several suicides through alcool and drug overdoses. The Chiefs themselves deplored it.
    An apology never righted a wrong.

  6. 6


    Glad you’re back. Hope you had a great holiday
    I agree about throwing billions at the native peoples. It just does not seem to work.

  7. 7
    George Z Says:

    Neil good to see you in Montreal June 1. Hope we can stay in touch.

    As I watched Harper and the Native leadership, I thought of how I have crossed paths with many individuals in the native community from Thunder Bay, to the present day. When I worked with the prov ministry housing and had a series of meetings concerning a housing project I came to the conclusion that only one thing can heal and restore the dignity and self worth of the average person in the native community.

    That is empowerment through self-government, and effective integration with the community at large while protecting, and continuing its own culture, spirit and tradition. There are many examples across canada of successful bands having built good business models, self goverment and great opportunities for youth and those who are marginalized by addiction or other health issues.

    An apology in an acknowledgement of wrong doing, an amend would be to try to repair or put back together what was destroyed by religous and cultural arrogance!

    All the best, George

  8. 8


    Thanks for your informed comment on the apology.
    Also good to see you and your wife at the Padua Centre. Welcome aboard.

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