'Apology contradicted by oppressive policies'

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Quebec Native Women recognizes the Prime Minister's official apologyconcerning the genocidal experience of Aboriginal people in the history ofthe Residential School system. While the apology to Aboriginal peoples islong overdue it is contradicted by the oppressive policies of the IndianAct.

The heinous crimes committed against Aboriginal children who were victimsand survivors of the Residential School experience must be dealt withbeyond mere apologies and monetary compensation.

The damages to our languages, well-being, social and political structuresand sexuality caused by Residential School, demands attention. The policyof assimilation through the Residential Schools system constituted a waragainst an identifiable group of people.

And while we commend the Canadian Government on the creation of a Truthand Reconciliation Commission we cannot ignore the Auditor General'srecent report substantiating that budgets for child welfare agencies inCanada continue to focus the majority of their efforts on the placement ofAboriginal children outside their communities and Nations. This type ofpractice is reminiscent of the Residential School policy.

Consequently, the Canadian Government must acknowledge that ResidentialSchool was an act of genocide; a crime against humanity. Apologies may berecognized but they are not necessarily accompanied by forgiveness as nonation or groups have ever been forgiven for their acts of genocide.

In order for this apology to be considered genuine, more efforts must beundertaken to correct current oppressive measures under the Indian Actthat prevent Indigenous peoples from prospering socially, culturally,politically and economically.

The actions of the Canadian Government in opposing the United NationsDeclaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples makes the apology feelhollow. Their opposition to the UNDRIP perpetuates the insidious, archaicIndian Act that continues to discriminate and deny Aboriginal nationstheir rights. The facts and arguments reflecting the manner in which theCanadian Government continues to undermine the rights of Indigenouspeoples, can be found in Amnesty International's 2008 Annual Report.

We therefore urge the Government of Canada to adequately fund Indigenouslanguages in a manner that is equivalent to the support given to theFrench and English languages; to adequately consult Aboriginal peoples ingood faith on legislation that addresses issues such as matrimonial realproperty, Bill C-21, Bill C-47; Bill C-30 and to eliminate the sexualdiscrimination that exists under Section 6 of the Indian Act.

In order for Aboriginal communities to emerge from the negative impacts ofcolonization they must have access to their lands and resources; they musthave the opportunities to build strong and healthy nations by taking totask the social and economic problems whose roots are firmly based incolonization.

Canada has established itself as a rich and prosperous country at theexpense and blood of Aboriginal peoples. And while we may recognize theGovernment's admission of guilt, the fact remains that many obstacles mustbe removed in order to give meaning to the spirit and intent of theirapology.

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