Apology to Indian Residential School Survivors - Open Letter from Ted Quewezance to the Prime Minister



    SAULT STE. MARIE, ON, June 3 /CNW/ - Ted Quewezance, Executive Director
of the National Residential School Survivors' Society published an open letter
to Prime Minister Harper.
    This letter, Mr. Quewezance says is written out of the deepest respect to
our leadership, in the hope that reconciliation is achieved for all parties.

    Following is Ted Quewezance letter:

    Dear Prime Minister Harper:
    On behalf of the Residential School Survivors of Canada, we welcome your
announcement of an apology. Residential School Survivors have waited patiently
for decades to hear the Government of Canada acknowledge what was done and the
profound impact on survivors, our families and our communities. We acknowledge
that it is your prerogative to speak for all Canadians; however, as you ponder
what you will say, we want you to know first hand what we expect.
    We write this open letter because we want you to hear our voice and know
that your words will have an intense impact on reconciliation. We know that
"...no apology means no reconciliation."
    It is with deep respect, we boldly put forward what survivors expect in
the apology."

    
    1.  Survivors expect Canada to recognize what was done was wrong and
        Canada accepts TOTAL responsibility for what they did to survivors
        and their families and their communities. Canada acknowledges that
        the impact on survivors and their families has been physical,
        emotional, mental and spiritual and has resulted in the destruction
        of our families and communities.

    2.  We expect Canada to make a sincere public expression of sorrow for
        what they have done. The apology must be sincere and recognize how
        terrible the experience was for survivors and knowingly Canada
        continued the operation of residential schools when they knew these
        were issues and concerns. Each month for decades there were reports
        and letters expressing concerns and described the physical, emotional
        and sexual abuse, but these concerns were totally ignored.

    3.  Canada must stop what they have done, and what they are doing to
        survivors and their families in our communities today. Canada must
        abandon the policies, rules and activities that continue
        re-victimizing survivors. The abuse has to stop and Canada must
        direct the forces that continue these activities to cease.

    4.  Canada must confess publically what they did to each survivor.
        Survivors were 'kidnapped' from their families, they were
        'imprisoned' in institutions which had little or no respect for human
        dignity. Children were beaten, humiliated, starved, introduced to
        contagious diseases like tuberculosis, sexually abused, some people
        died under questionable circumstances in an environment whose goal
        was to "...take the Indian out of the child."

        Most in the world would call what was done 'cultural genocide.' What
        would be appropriate is an apology letter sent to each survivor from
        the Prime Minister confessing and asking forgiveness for what was
        done.

    5.  Canada must make restitution - Canada must put back what was taken
        away by committing to rebuilding individuals, families and
        communities. Canada needs to recognize that the Settlement Agreement
        does not compensate the pain and suffering, but it is only a small
        token to acknowledge this travesty. Canada needs to acknowledge that
        it may take a number of generations for First Nation, Métis and Inuit
        families to recover and Canada will NOT "...wash their hands" of what
        they did. The commitment is to do all they can to make things right.

    6.  Canada has an obligation to reconcile and ask forgiveness for what
        they did as perpetrators of these terrible acts. Canada's obligation
        to reconcile means that survivors also need the capacity to also
        reconcile and forgive. Healing is easier said, than done and the
        desire to reconcile and ask forgiveness is the beginning of a process
        where others will also need to reconcile and ask for forgiveness.

    7.  Canada needs to commit that it will never, never, never let this
        happen again.
    

    Anything less than the above is not in our view a sincere apology, and
will not be accepted by most of the survivors, their families and their
communities. Anything less will not be an expression of reconciliation.
    Once again, we welcome the announcement of the apology and applaud your
decision to acknowledge a part of Canadian history that many deny was as
intense as it was or even happened. It is with profound gratitude that we
encourage you to hear our voice.

    All my relations;

    Ted Quewezance, Executive Director





For further information:

For further information: Ted Quewezance, (705) 257-8761 (cell); National
Residential School Survivors Society, 2-450 Frontenac St., Rankin Reserve,
Sault Ste Marie, ON, P6A 5K9, (705) 942-9422, Fax: (705) 942-8713, Toll Free:
1-866-575-0006, Email: info@nrsss.ca, Website: www.nrsss.ca; Charlotte
Commanda, Financial Controller/Office Coordinator, 2-450 Frontenac St., Rankin
Reserve, Sault Ste. Marie, ON, P6A 5K9, (705) 942-9422, (705) 942-8713 Fax

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NATIONAL RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SURVIVORS' SOCIETY

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