Thursday, May 15, 2008

Residential School Apology

Last September came the news that the federal government had finalized a compensation deal with former residential school students. While I saw this as welcome news, I also argued in a post that the government should take things one step further and issue a formal apology. Finally, it would appear that this is about to happen.

When I commented on the compensation issue back in September some commenters brought up the issue of how the settlement money may or may not be spent by the recipients. Fair enough. It is important that this money not serve to cause further problems in aboriginal communities. Perhaps some recipients will spend the bulk of their payments unwisely. However, I know people in my community that have plans to put their settlement money to very good use. The point of that September post, however, was that the government would be wise to go one step further and issue a formal apology.

In many of the communities I have worked in, people have bad feelings toward the entire education system because of the problems that occurred in the past with the residential school system. My hope is that a formal government apology will in some small way start to heal the rift that still exists to some extent between former students, many of whom now have children of their own in the education system, and schools.

Apologies and settlement payments of course aren't magic bullets that will solve this complicated issue over night. The first step toward healing however, is always the two words, "I'm sorry."

Politics aside, its nice to see that this long overdue apology is finally going to happen.