I could well relate to the feelings Canadians must have experienced as they witnesses the Apology to their Native Peoples, video posted in the VodPod on the right. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports: ‘We are sorry’.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had yet to utter a single word of Canada’s apology to former Indian residential schools students when the cheering began. Native drumming and shouts turned into loud, simultaneous clapping. Raw emotion bursting for an apology decades overdue. There were many smiles.
For the sexual and physical abuse that occurred at the schools, Canada apologized. For the efforts to wipe out aboriginal languages and culture in the name of assimilation, Mr. Harper expressed remorse.
But aboriginal eyes in the now quiet House of Commons room began to tear when the Prime Minister acknowledged the ongoing, generational impacts of residential schools.
“We now recognize that, in separating children from their families, we undermined the ability of many to adequately parent their own children and sowed the seeds for generations to follow,” he said. “Not only did you suffer these abuses as children, but as you became parents, you were powerless to protect your own children from suffering the same experience, and for this we are sorry.”…
How I felt here when parallel events happened you may read in 13 February 2008: just back from The Block in Redfern.
At least 1,000 people stood in the pouring rain at Redfern’s famous Block and watched on the big screen as Kevin Rudd moved the motion of Apology. I would not have missed it for quids!
Next to me an Aboriginal woman in her thirties or forties, her tears blending with the rain.
Cheers and a standing ovation greeted Kevin Rudd’s speech.
We didn’t get to hear the middle section of Dr Nelson’s speech as at that point the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, was speaking to us live.
However, the symbolism near the end of Rudd and Nelson jointly presenting to the Speaker the gift from the Stolen Generations spoke to all our hearts.
Golden syrup and damper afterwards, and then a coffee for me on the way home at Cafe Cana…
What is remarkable is that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is Canada’s John Howard or Brendan Nelson! Can you believe it!
The Apology also goes further than ours did into the area of compensation. That precedent will not be lost here.