I can't see any justification for this (see article below). This apology is so extremely important in helping to close one of the darkest chapters in our history. Why those who were the most affected by it wouldn't be included in the process is beyond me. It is quite unfortunate and the Harper government still has time to change course between now and June 11th.
I seriously hope that the apology is not politicized in any way (like the Arar apology was).
I want to be able to applaud Harper for doing this right because there is only one chance and this should in every way transcend partisan politics. I want to write here on June 11th that Harper did this right.
So I hope Harper can realize how big of deal this is and is mindful that it is essential that his apology be well received by Natives across the country. They are the ones that suffered and this is an extremely important step to bring closure for them on this disgrace in our history.
Native groups feel shut out of residential-schools apology
From Friday's Globe and Mail
June 5, 2008 at 7:37 PM EDT
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper will rise in the House of Commons next Wednesday to deliver an apology that former students of Indian residential schools have waited decades to hear.
But Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl acknowledged Thursday that no native leaders will get to see the apology before it's read in the House, and details surrounding the landmark day are being left to the last minute.
Further, many former students from across the country are upset there is no broad program to help them come to Parliament Hill to witness the historic event.
“I'd sure like to go,” said Fran Fletcher-Luther, 73, of Chapleau, Ont., who spent 10 years in residential schools.
She tearfully recalled Thursday how, when she was 15 and dealing with painful appendicitis, medically ignorant school staff fed her laxatives for two weeks until her appendix burst.
Thinking of her many classmates who are now dead, Ms. Fletcher-Luther said it would be a powerful event to witness, but she can't afford the plane ticket.
“It is a historic moment,” she said. “To be there at that time would be a tremendous uplift.”
Several aboriginal groups said Thursday that they have been flooded with requests like Ms. Fletcher-Luther's for assistance to get to Ottawa.
Mr. Strahl explained Thursday that former students are encouraged to gather at local events across the country to watch the apology on television. About 100 aboriginals, primarily board members of school survivor groups, will be flown in at federal expense.
“We're not going to pay for thousands of students to fly to Ottawa,” Mr. Strahl told reporters.
As for the wording itself, Mr. Strahl said he and his staff have been listening to aboriginal groups and reading their submissions, but he has no intention of circulating any drafts beforehand as the Assembly of First Nations would like.
His language in the House of Commons Thursday, however, suggested that Ottawa is ready to use words that it has long avoided – such as describing students as “survivors” of residential schools.
“There have been ongoing consultations. It continued this week with more survivors that the Prime Minister and I met with,” Mr. Strahl said Thursday.
Details regarding a reception or special event for those students who pay their way to Ottawa are still up in the air, he said.
“Some of this stuff will be decided right up to the last minute,” he said, suggesting a big screen may be set up outside Parliament so that people can watch the apology. “We have no idea of how many people are coming. And neither does the Assembly of First Nations. So we're doing our best, and we'll make sure that it's very appropriate.”
Ted Quewezance, executive director of the National Residential School Survivors Society, said Thursday that former students are being left in the dark as to what the apology will say.
“It's pretty secretive. It hasn't been shared with anybody,” he said.
Mr. Quewezance expressed disappointment at being unable to accommodate the requests he has received from elders who want to be in Ottawa next week.
“That's the advice I gave government: to bring in as many survivors as possible,” he said. “What that does for me is it questions [the] sincerity. If they're sincere about it, let's bring as many people out as possible.”
NDP Leader Jack Layton privately appealed to the Prime Minister's Office weeks ago to involve native leaders in the drafting of the apology.
“It's deeply troubling,” he said of the government's decision not to circulate a draft. “They run the risk of that kind of paternalistic attitude of ‘we-know-best and the first nations will just have to accept what we dish out.'”
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