Canadians encouraged to watch residential schools apology

Anglican Church of Canada leaders are encouraging all Canadians to watch the federal government’s apology to former residential school students, to be delivered today, June 11, at 3:00 pm (ET) in the House of Commons, Ottawa. The apology will be broadcast live on CBC radio, CBC Newsworld, and CPAC. It can also be watched online at CPAC, APTN, and

Public viewings of the apology are also happening across Canada. Take a look at this list from KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, to see if there is an event in your area. One activity specifically requested by the Assembly of First Nations is for all Ottawa churches to ring their bells at 3:00 pm for two minutes.

Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said on June 9 that the government’s apology will acknowledge that Aboriginal children not only lost their culture and language in residential schools, but many suffered mental, physical, and sexual abuse. The government-funded, church-run schools operated across Canada from the mid-19th century to 1996.

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald said that the apology could signal “the dawning of a new world.” He explained that “if the apology is a good and robust one, then there will be positive changes for the future. It is the end of a lot of misery, but the most important thing is that it’s a new start.”

At various times between 1820 and 1969, the Anglican Church of Canada administered three dozen Indian and Eskimo residential schools and hostels across Canada. In 1993, Primate Michael Peers apologized to Aboriginals for the church’s involvement in the system. Today, the church continues to work on improving relationships with Aboriginal Peoples through programs like the Indigenous Ministries department of General Synod and the Anglican Healing Fund.

“I think that if we as a church really hear what has happened and understand our role in it,” said Bishop MacDonald, “then we will understand that our identity as a faith community will forever be touched by this time and this moment.”

Several national Canadian Anglican leaders are in Ottawa to witness the apology, including

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