On June 11, 2008 Stephen Harper officially apologized on behalf of the government of Canada for putting indigenous people through the residential school system.
Residential schools were a part of colonization of indigenous people in Canada. During the 19th century, aboriginal children were forced to assimilate to white settler culture while attending school. Native children were punished for practicing any aspect of their culture, abused physically and sexually by staff and forced to adopt Christianity. This attempt at assimilation was really an exercise in state-sanctioned cultural genocide. Started in the mid 1800s, the last residential school was closed in 1996.
In March 1998 the government made a written statement of apology and established the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. The funding to the Foundation was cut March 31st 2010 by Conservative MP Chuck Strahl.
Many indigenous groups agree that Harper's apology has not been enough. After Harper's apology, he has done little to actually acknowledge aboriginal issues. Because of the legacy of residential schools, aboriginal people are over represented in poverty statistics, HIV infection rates, and addiction statics.
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