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Activist Communique: Indigenous peoples want the Canadian government to honour its apology

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On Thursday July 25, 2013, First Nations activists across Canada are calling for the Federal government to release all documents pertaining to our history of residential schools immediately.

Nation-wide prayers are encouraged across Canada from 12:00 pm noon to 1:00 pm.

"If Canada made the apology, they need to honour it," the call out explains.

In 2008, the Federal government under Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, made a rare public apology to First Nations, Metis and Inuit for their treatment under the residential school system.

Residential schools - funded by the Canadian government and administered by Christian churches -- operated here quite soon after settlers began migrating to Turtle Island.

Bolstered by an amendment to the Indian Act in 1920, it made attendance at a day, industrial or residential school compulsory for First Nations children and, in some parts of the country, residential schools were the only option.

According to Wikipedia, the number of residential schools reached 80 in 1931 but decreased in the years that followed. The last federally-operated residential school was closed in 1996. In total, about 150,000 First Nations children passed through the residential school system.

The Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) was created to heal wounds but the Harper government has not lived up to its apology.

An apology without action to improve the lives within Indigenous communities in worthless. Marred by delays, the TRC has received some documentation released by the Federal government but had to fight in court earlier this year to get all relevant documents pertaining to residential schools released.

Full disclosure is necessary in this case for the truth to indeed heal and set people free. Anything less is an insult to everyone living in Canada.

In its defense, the government has stated it has released 4.1 million documents to the TRC.

All parties involved are hopeful that all documents will be released to the TRC before its mandate expires next year.

A further stumbling block to full public disclosure is a needed commitment to securing where these newly released documents will be stored and displayed.

Library and Archives Canada has estimated that it could cost upwards of $40 million over ten years to process all the documents.

At the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in Whitehorse, Yukon, last week passed an Emergency Resolution The AFN passed an emergency resolution saying it, "will not accept the apology as catch-all recognition for all federal policy past, present and ongoing which have and continue to negatively impact Indigenous peoples.”

I urge the Canadian governing to engage and participate fully and honestly in the healing process from the impact of residential schools.

It's the right thing to do.

To do any less would be uncivilized.

For information about rallies on Thursday, please see this Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/events/1394657634086596/

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