OTTAWA, June 11, 2015 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today marked the seventh anniversary of the Prime Minister's Statement of Apology to Former Students of Indian Residential Schools on behalf of the Government of Canada, delivered in the House of Commons on June 11, 2008 and witnessed by First Nations and Canadians across the country.
"Our thoughts today are with the survivors of the Indian residential schools and the need for reconciliation," said National Chief Bellegarde. "It is deeply disappointing to learn that the Prime Minister met with Pope Francis today and did not ask the Pope to come to Canada to formally apologize to survivors for the role of the Catholic Church in the residential schools. Today would have been a powerful and appropriate day to issue that invitation and it would help survivors in their healing journey. First Nations will continue to push for action on reconciliation."
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission recently released 94 "calls to action" which included an apology to survivors from the Pope to be delivered in Canada so it could be witnessed by all. Reports indicate that the federal government has provided the recommendations to the Holy See but the Prime Minister did not use the opportunity in his meeting with Pope Francis to make a formal request.
"First Nations are still committed to action and change based on our original relationship of mutual respect, peaceful co-existence and sharing" said National Chief Bellegarde. "There is growing momentum for change. Canadians have had their eyes opened by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and they are opening their hearts and minds to reconciliation and change. Working together we can build a fair and just country that we can all be proud of. It is time to give life to the words in the apology."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
For further information: Jenna Young Castro, AFN Communications Officer, (613) 241-6789 ext 401, (613) 314-8157, [email protected]; Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, (613) 241-6789 ext 382, (613) 292-0857, [email protected]