Government apology to students of residential schools - AENQ-CSQ applauds government initiative and demands that Ottawa go further

    MONTREAL, June 12 /CNW Telbec/ - "The Northern Québec Teaching
Association (AENQ-CSQ), an affiliate of the Centrale des syndicats du Québec
(CSQ) applauds the initiative of the Government of Canada to apologise, on
behalf of all Canadians, to the students of Native residential schools for the
treatment they suffered. Unquestionably, this represents another step toward
the recognition of the historical reality underlying the troubled situation in
which Québec's First Nations find themselves to this day."
    It is in those terms that Mr Patrick D'Astous, the president of AENQ-CSQ
reacted to this historic event in the House of Commons in Ottawa in the
presence of First Nations leaders.

    The need for a more positive relationship

    Mr D'Astous went on to express the hope of AENQ-CSQ that this desire for
reconciliation expressed by the Canadian government will lead to a more
positive relationship between Natives and the school systems in their Northern
Québec communities.
    "A positive relationship is all the more important in that the hope for
the future of those communities is strongly tied to the academic success of
the children and adolescents who attend those schools. For that reason, the
support and encouragement, of both parents and the entire community, are vital
to that success. This remains essential in spite of the negative feelings,
often legitimate, that many feel toward schools," the AENQ-CSQ President

    Another admission to come

    Mr D'Astous added that this historic recognition by the Canadian
government of past wrongs must be followed by another admission.
    "Governments must also agree that the schools and school boards providing
educational services to the youth of these communities are not adequately
funded. At this time, it is dishonest to pretend that Native or Inuit students
are receiving an education of the same quality provided to students in
non-Native communities. That is clearly not the case, and governments have to
recognise this if Native communities are truly to receive the help they need,"
Mr D'Astous noted.

    A school system in need of greater funding

    Mr D'Astous went on to say that the next step on the part of governments
toward reconciliation should take the form of adequate funding that recognises
the many hardships this school system has to deal with, including the tragic
social consequences of the system of residential schools.
    "This is the moment of truth. The Canadian government has admitted that
there was a genuine attempt at assimilation. It maintains its desire to atone
for that. If we honestly aspire to healing, we must offer hope - the hope for
equal opportunity in education in the context of the new global village, and
this despite the tragedies of the past," Mr D'Astous concluded.

    AENQ snapshot

    The Northern Québec Teaching Association, an affiliate of the CSQ, with
more than 1,300 members, represents teaching and support personnel of the Cree
and Kativik School Boards.

For further information:

For further information: Claude Girard, Communications Director, CSQ,
Cell: (514) 237-4432

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