OTTAWA, May 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Thursday, June 11, 2009 marks the first
anniversary of Canada's apology for its treatment of children, parents and
families as a result of the Indian Residential School Systems. Assembly of
First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine is calling on Canadians to join him
and many others from across the country in Ottawa on June 11 to participate in
a "National Day of Reconciliation" event that will remind the federal
government that the apology calls for the establishment of a new standard of
behaviour toward Aboriginal people.
"Last year, the Prime Minister made a moving and heartfelt apology to
residential school survivors on behalf of all Canadians," said National Chief
Phil Fontaine. "Now is the time to move forward on the next step in our
journey, and that is to enter a new era of reconciliation in Canada. We
believe Canadians care, and that they believe in fairness and justice. This is
an opportunity to renew relations between First Nations and non-Aboriginal
communities. Reconciliation belongs to all of us."
On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood in the House of
Commons and stated: "There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that
inspired the Indian Residential Schools system to ever again prevail... You
have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a
very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey."
"June 11th will now be a day to put meaningful action to the many fine
words that have been given to us by way of apologies from the residential
school era," the National Chief said. "We once again offer our hand to work in
partnership with the governments, the Churches, and the people of Canada, to
make this land a better place for First Nation people, and all Canadians."
The National Chief is inviting everyone to Ottawa, but is also
encouraging communities across the country - First Nations, Aboriginal and
Non-Aboriginal - in every reserve, town and city to participate in what he
called a "National Day of Reconciliation". To do so would send a strong
message to the government about Reconciliation.
The National Day of Reconciliation will begin with a sunrise ceremony at
5:30 a.m. on Victoria Island. Members of the public are welcome to participate
or observe. At noon, First Nations leaders will meet with church leaders and
politicians for a symbolic handshake on the Portage Bridge, followed by a
march of unity to Parliament Hill. At the Hill, children will invite everyone
to participate in a Round Dance, a traditional display of friendship and
"Our march on June 11 in Ottawa will be symbolic of the journey we must
all make together," the National Chief stated. "We will reach our destination
when First Nations live in healthy communities and raise children who can
pursue their goals and dreams, and when First Nations share in the riches of
this, their traditional homeland."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations in Canada.
For further information:
For further information: Bryan Hendry, Senior Policy Advisor, Assembly
of First Nations, (613) 241-6789, ext. 229, cell: (613) 293-6106,
firstname.lastname@example.org; Don Kelly, A/Communications Director, Assembly of First
Nations, (613) 241-6789, ext. 334, cell: (613) 292-2787, email@example.com; Wayne
Courchene, Senior Aide to the National Chief, Assembly of First Nations, (613)
241-6789, ex. 257, cell: (613) 292-2562, firstname.lastname@example.org