Jan 10, 2013- 10:00 AM
On June 11, 2008 you rose to speak in the House of Commons and said: “There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian Residential Schools system to ever prevail again.
You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey.
The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.”
So, on behalf of myself and all Canadians, you apologized for things most of us, including yourself, had no part in, yet that had very profoundly affected this cultural community within our population and one that contributed to systemic hardships and unspeakable wounds that words cannot even come close to healing and that most cannot even begin to comprehend.
Now, you owe the aboriginal population an apology for something you’ve directly done — or, more precisely, something you’ve failed to do: properly consider their living situation and respond to their attempts to contact you.
Instead of making haste to make things right, you’ve simply made many excuses. We do not want to hear about how you encouraged your ministers to discuss this or about the money you’ve thrown at Attawapiskat.
We do not want to engage in more games of blame the victim. (Attawapiskat Chief) Theresa Spence and many Canadians engaging in protests right now across this country want one thing: you to spend your time discussing this with this woman.
This woman is out of options and is making herself heard the only way she has left — putting her life on the line to get her message across.
After all of the efforts she’s made to better the living conditions of her people and all of the attempts to raise awareness, she deserves your time and she needs to receive it.
I cannot imagine how it would feel to sit down at Christmas dinner surrounded by family knowing someone has gone weeks without eating simply because they want to talk to you.
This cannot stand. These pleas cannot be ignored, and we cannot preach human rights and messages of economic stability and our general well-being while people are living in sheds and may as well be in a third-world country.
An apology entails describing wrongs that have been made and promising to rectify the error inasmuch as one can.
Unless you want to abandon your pledge to these people and essentially show Canadians that those words four years ago were hollow and meaningless, you need to not only say that there is no place in Canada for these attitudes and say that you are the prime minister for all Canadians.
You need to lead by example with tangible results much in the same way as Chief Spence. I hope you will consider these words and the pleas of many Canadians and will ultimately choose to do what is right.
Too much time has already been wasted. There may not be an opportunity to receive recognition for making this a top priority, but at the end of the day you can still ensure that this woman stays alive to continue helping her people.