Magazine article Anglican Journal

Apology Garners Mixed Reaction

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Apology Garners Mixed Reaction

Article excerpt


Native Anglican church leaders had mixed reaction to the federal government's expression of "profound regret" for racist attitudes and policies towards indigenous peoples, including establishment of the residential school system.

Catherine Morrison, one of two church representatives invited to the ceremony that accompanied the statement, said she was disappointed. The apology was couched in legal language, she said, and tucked in the middle of an 11-page statement delivered by a cabinet minister, not the prime minister.

In contrast to the release of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, to which 1,500 members of native groups and communities were invited, she said, only about 150 individuals were invited to the latest ceremony. (Moosonee Bishop Caleb Lawrence joined Ms. Morrison for the Ottawa event.)

Ottawa's apology was made last month by Indian Affairs Minister Jane Stewart as part of the government's official response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. "To those who suffered the tragedy of residential schools," said Ms. Stewart, "we are deeply sorry."

Speaking from Edmonton, where she was attending a meeting of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, Ms. Morrison said council members had mixed feelings about the government's statement and apology.

"Many people said we should receive the apology with graciousness and love," she said. "Many were very pleased that the minister delivered it with emotion - my impression was that she was close to tears. Still, many people felt it wasn't enough."

Some also felt that the Prime Minister should have delivered the apology in the House of Commons, said Ms. Morrison, adding that former prime minister Brian Mulroney did just that when he offered a formal apology on behalf of Canada to Japanese Canadians interned during the Second World War. "But many people weren't expecting an apology at all."

The council will press for a formal apology from the prime minister, she said.

"The strongest thing council was saying," said Ms. Morrison, "was that what's important in healing is a change in people's attitudes and promoting education and awareness among the general public. …

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