Never again’

By on May 1, 2011

The more than 100 years of abuse in Indian residential schools is a dark and missing chapter in the history of Canada, Chief Phil Fontaine told delegates to “Sharing Truth,” a March forum on creating a national research centre on the residential schools. “We must reach out to the whole country and all Canadians and write this missing chapter,” said Fontaine, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. “Never again must people be abused because of their race. We must involve universities, high schools, church groups and even the private sector to embrace this piece of our country’s history.”Fontaine, a residential school survivor and former chief of the Assembly of First Nations, was a principal leader in the fight to secure compensation for survivors. In the early days, the federal government wanted just to compensate individuals—the 12,000 to 15,000 survivors who had made claims. There was no talk of apologies, rights violations and reconciliation. In addition, rates of compensation varied unfairly by province and church. “People came to us and said, ‘This process is really re-victimizing the survivors,’ ” Fontaine said. “We knew that cash without an apology, without recording the history was simply not good enough,” he said. Nevertheless, the cash settlement of at least $1.7 billion was the largest in Canadian history. Ω

Author

  • Diana Swift

    Diana Swift is an award-winning writer and editor with 30 years’ experience in newspaper and magazine editing and production. In January 2011, she joined the Anglican Journal as a contributing editor.

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