Federal apology useful first step, but continuing response is needed

TORONTO (January 9, 1998) — The Canadian federal government has taken a useful first step in apologizing to indigenous peoples for the harm they suffered at residential schools, but it must remain open to other remedies that may be required or sought, according to Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Mr. Boyles acknowledges that indigenous peoples themselves are divided in their response to the government’s apology and to the announcement this week that Ottawa will create a $350-million fund for treatment and healing.

“We urge the government to continue to listen and to be prepared to take further steps in keeping with aboriginal people’s response to these initiatives,” Mr. Boyles said.

Some people at a joint meeting of the church’s northern dioceses and the Council of Indigenous Peoples meeting in Edmonton this week were critical of both the apology and the amount of money offered by Ottawa.

“There is a feeling that the apology does not go far enough in accepting the federal government’s responsibility for residential schools,” said Catherine Morrison, the church’s Indigenous Justice Coordinator.

“There is also a feeling that the dollar amount for healing is actually very small,” she added, “and that it may not go to the people who need it the most.”

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