AFN National Chief acknowledges and supports Canada's Parliament for sincere apology



    OTTAWA, June 12 /CNW Telbec/ - AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine
acknowledged Canada's Parliament for a sincere apology delivered by Prime
Minister Harper. The apology will hopefully begin a healing process for
survivors, their families and loved ones as Canada's past history of
residential schools is acknowledged.
    "Parliament acknowledged the wrongs of the past in the House of Commons
with survivors and their families present, before church leaders, with the
Prime Minister and all House leaders addressing Parliament, the nation and the
world," said National Chief Phil Fontaine. "The apology acknowledged that it
was wrong to attack our culture, our faith, our identity and our autonomy as
peoples. It acknowledged that these attacks were done in the most egregious
manner, by depriving generations of children of the love and support of their
parents, their culture, and their identity. This apology can, I believe, be
viewed as a sincere attempt to heal past wounds."
    The National Chief added that the apology not only acknowledged the past,
but noted that by addressing this tragic chapter of Canadian history, Canada
can begin to turn a page of its history. The National Chief noted that the
Prime Minister and House leaders spoke of a future in which Canada has
promised to respect First Nations rights and would never again try to
denigrate or destroy the identity of First Nations as distinct peoples; or
compromise First Nations culture and families.
    "For survivors the apology is not only about healing past wounds, but is
also about building a new relationship with Canada and to foster mutual trust
and respect, for themselves, their children and grandchildren." said National
Chief Phil Fontaine. "This is why the apology is historic, residential school
students, who were persecuted as children, have not only survived; they are
now guiding Canada toward reconciliation. It is also important for all
Canadians that we shed a light on this hidden aspect of our history so that we
can begin to better understand and share with all Canadians our country's
past."
    "I also want to acknowledge that some survivors may find it difficult to
accept this apology. The experiences of all survivors may be shared but each
case is unique and individual. I personally hope that the healing can begin
for all survivors. I also want to say that this is the start of the process
for Truth and Reconciliation and the very important work that will begin under
the guidance of Justice Harry Laforme," the National Chief concluded.

    The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Joan McEwen, AFN Communications Director, (613)
241-6789 ext. 242, cell: (613) 324-3329, jmcewen@afn.ca


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