AFN National Chief Honours Third Anniversary of Apology for Residential Schools: Says Education is the Way Forward

OTTAWA, June 10, 2011 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today honoured the three-year anniversary of the Government of Canada's apology for the Indian residential school system, stating that First Nation education is a cornerstone of reconciliation between First Nations and all Canadians.

"Education was used as a weapon of oppression against our people, but it can now be the key to unlock the full potential of our children, citizens, communities and governments," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.  "Today, we remember the tens of thousands of First Nation children ripped from their families and communities.  We honour their stories, their voices and their legacy.  As they work to heal themselves and one another, we call on all Canadians to support our call to action on First Nation education and to support fair and equitable education that values our languages and cultures."

The historic apology to residential school survivors was delivered in the House of Commons June 11, 2008.  It was an important moment in the shared history of First Nations and Canada, a promise and commitment by Parliament and all of Canada to join First Nations on a journey toward healing and reconciliation, including the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"I had the honour to be in Parliament, with my late Grandmother by my side, as the Prime Minister delivered those important words," said National Chief Atleo.  "I will never forget the moment when my Grandmother turned to me and said: 'Grandson, they are beginning to see us'.  She told me of a dream of trying to lift a heavy page and she then understood what it meant: it is now time for all of us to turn the page to a new chapter, together. That dream of reconciliation is something we must all commit to making a reality.  We extend our hands to all Canadians in that spirit of partnership to work for a stronger Canada for all."

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission continues its important work gathering the stories from residential school survivors through its truth-telling process.  National events are taking place throughout 2011.  For more information on TRC events visit www.trc.ca.

This June also marks one year of the national Call to Action on First Nation education which National Chief Atleo launched to gather support by all sectors for equity in all levels of education for First Nations.  As part of Advocacy, Awareness and Action month, AFN will be releasing a status report on the national Call to Action on First Nation education this June.  See www.afn.ca for regular updates and follow online discussion at #FNhist.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  AFN and National Chief Atleo are on twitter.  Follow @AFN_Updates, @AFN_Comms and @NCAtleo.

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

Don Kelly AFN A/Communications Director 613-241-6789 ext. 334; 613-2922787 or dkelly@afn.ca

Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca

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