NAN acknowledges apology for residential schools

    THUNDER BAY, ON, June 11 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief
Stan Beardy welcomes and acknowledges today's apology by Prime Minister
Stephen Harper in the House of Commons in Ottawa for the abuse suffered
through Residential Schools by First Nations people across Canada.
    "Today's formal recognition of wrong-doing by Canada is crucial not only
for the healing of the NAN members affected by residential schools, but also
for their respect and dignity. This acknowledgement of injustice means that
the healing process for First Nations people across the country can finally
begin," said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy, who was present in the House of
Commons for the apology.
    "Today is an important occasion not only for First Nations but for all of
Canada. On behalf of the people of Nishnawbe Aski I thank the Government of
Canada for the Prime Minister's apology, and I hope that First Nations can
finally begin to put to rest the devastating legacy of this shameful chapter
of Canadian history," said Beardy.
    Since 2005, NAN has publicly urged for a formal apology by the Prime
Minister of Canada and continuation of programs focused on individual and
community healing for the 90 percent of NAN members who have been impacted by
the residential school system.
    "Thousands of innocent lives were shattered by the residential school
system, not only NAN members but First Nations across the province and
country," said Beardy. "This apology does not erase the pain endured by
survivors nor does it fix the broken families, Nations or promises that were a
result of the residential school system but it is an important first step
towards reconciliation between the Government of Canada and First Nations."
    Events focused on the apology took place across the Nation today
including an all-day event at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School in
Thunder Bay. NAN Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler gathered with over two
hundred residential school survivors, their families, NAN Elders and
supporters to share stories, grief and reflections on this much awaited
    The Assembly of First Nations has been negotiating with the Government of
Canada since December 2004 to reach a deal that will compensate more than
12,000 Aboriginals currently participating in lawsuits seeking compensation
for the effects of the residential school system that uprooted Aboriginal
children across Canada from their home communities. An Agreement-in-Principle
was reached with the former Liberal government November 2005 and subsequently
a final agreement with the Conservative government April 2006.
    Approximately 5,000 NAN members attended residential schools.

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization
representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty 9 and Ontario
portions of Treaty 5 - an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario.

For further information:

For further information: Michael Heintzman, Media Relations Officer,
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4906, (807) 621-2790 mobile

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