It’s not just that the native peoples have heard the words of apology they longed to hear – those, after all, are a half-measure since the damage done by the residential schools and racist policy remains and mostly can’t be undone.
Even more to the point is the other side of the equation: that those of us of the dominant European ancestry have officially acknowledged the wrong, indeed our society’s deep moral failing on the matter, and made our confession.
The four party leaders all rose to the occasion eloquently. Parliament was lifted out of its usual morass of recrimination and acrimony and was never more dignified. What gave it the grace it arguably doesn’t deserve, having been the instrument of the native people’s pain, was the statements of the native leaders themselves.
This essential part of it almost didn’t happen. The government at first didn’t want to take the extraordinary step of allowing them to speak in Parliament, and only relented at the last minute.
Perhaps it was afraid of what they would say. I felt a twinge of trepidation myself as national leader Phil Fontaine, in ceremonial headdress, rose to speak. After all, having attained the podium at last, he had the power at that moment to put the nation to shame.
He could have said: The presumption of moral superiority which your society brought to these shores has been brought low. You came with the Christian Gospels in hand, and proceeded to defile them with your policies, government and churches alike. The pain you inflicted on our people was inhumanly vile, and your wickedness as a nation is now revealed. We, who have endured, reject your legitimacy and will resist your presence in this land forever…..For more info click here.
Canada has a long history of family abuse. The apology has been long overdue.