Thousands of Aboriginal People Converging on Ottawa to Respond to Prime
Minister's 2008 Apology


OTTAWA, June 10 /CNW/ - Thousands of Aboriginal individuals are assembling in Ottawa to release this weekend the forgiveness that Prime Minister Stephen Harper requested in 2008.

The Prime Minister concluded his apology for Indian Residential Schools by requesting "the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly."

"At that moment" says Chief Kenny Blacksmith, "the onus was placed on our people as individuals to respond. The only way to come into our full healing as the First Peoples of Canada is to forgive. Forgiveness is not political; it cannot be bought or sold; it cannot be legislated. It is an individual choice that can break the generational cycle of victimization and accusation."

Blacksmith meets tomorrow with Prime Minister Harper, who cannot attend the event on account of international obligations, but has been very supportive, and will address the Summit via video on Saturday.

The National Forgiven Summit comes out of the vision and leadership of Chief Blacksmith, a residential school survivor, former Deputy Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees of Quebec, and founder of Gathering Nations International.

"Vision is not reactionary to the past," says Blacksmith, "but we have to release ourselves and others from the burden of the past so we can look with hope to the future."

The Summit runs from Friday to Sunday evening at the Ottawa Civic Centre. Open to the public, it is also drawing hundreds of non-Aboriginal people, government leaders, and international observers to witness this historic moment. The response aims to bring healing and freedom to those negatively affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential School system.

On Saturday, Chief Blacksmith, in the company of youth and elders from across the country, will present a Charter of Forgiveness and Freedom to the Government and people of Canada. Authored by residential school survivors, elders and youth, this Charter will be signed by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adherents and witnesses throughout the weekend.

Cabinet Minister Chuck Strahl will be present to accept the Charter on the government's behalf.

A Press Conference will be held at 3:30pm on Saturday June 12, 2010 at the Ottawa Civic Centre with Minister Strahl and Chief Blacksmith. To attend the Summit as media, please visit the website to access the Media Guide. The Summit can be viewed by live webstream at and


For further information: For further information: For Media Inquiries contact: Shauna Simmonds, Media Relations, National Forgiven Summit,, 647.244.1486; For National Forgiven Summit Inquires contact:

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