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  • Innu Nation Refusing Both Federal and Provincial Apologies

    Picture courtesy the Innu Nation.

    The Innu Nation in Labrador is not going to accept apologies from either the federal or provincial governments for abuse suffered by children at residential schools.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Happy Valley-Goose Bay today to apologize on behalf of the federal government, and Premier Dwight Ball says the province may do the same in future.

    Innu Nation Grand Chief Gregory Rich says Innu elders are not ready to accept an apology for such a small part of their experience, and any apology should recognize other damaging things done to the Innu in the past, as well as the present.

    The Innu Nation will not demonstrate at the site; leaders will simply stay away. Any Innu person who wishes to participate in the event is free to do so.

    Earlier Story

    Hundreds are gathering in Happy Valley-Goose Bay this morning where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will offer a formal apology to residential school survivors in this province.

    Trudeau will be in Labrador today to apologize to Indigenous groups for the Moravian Church-run residential schools, where thousands of children were taken from there homes in an attempt to naturalize them to European-style culture, and remove their own. Many of those who went to the schools were abused.
    A $50-million settlement was reached in May of 2016 for the hundreds of survivors in this province who were left out of a previous national settlement.

    Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered an apology for survivors back in 2008, but left survivors in Labrador and northern Newfoundland out. A formal provincial apology will take place following consultation with survivors.

    Premier Dwight Ball will be on hand this morning as Justin Trudeau offers his apology at 10:30 a.m. Labrador time.

    But leaders with the Innu Nation are not attending.

    At a meeting in Sheshatshiu this week, Innu leaders decided not to accept the Prime Minister’s apology.

    Innu Nation Grand Chief Gregory Rich says Innu elders are not ready to accept an apology for such a small part of their experience, and any apology should recognize other damaging things done to the Innu in the past, as well as the present.

    The Innu Nation was already frustrated with the federal government for choosing not to take part in the Innu Child Welfare Inquiry in Labrador.

    Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation Chief Eugene Hart says the truth of what happened to past generations of Innu has never been fully documented and the situation can’t be dealt with in bits and pieces.

    Former Innu Chief Blames State of Child Services for Apology Rejection

    The former Deputy Grand Chief of the Innu Nation believes the Prime Minister’s apology for the residential schools should be rejected, and he points the finger at the state of Labrador’s child services.

    Speaking on VOCM’s Nightline with Jonathan Richler, Simeon Tshakapesh says the current provincial government is still taking children away from their homes and culture.

    Tshakapesh says the former Child Youth and Family Services, now the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development, is comparable to the Residential Schools situation. He says the only option should be keeping the kids in Labrador, which means an Aboriginal Centre needs to be build.

    He says they need the centre at the heart of Labrador, for Innu, Inuit, Metis and other Aboriginals.

    Tshakapesh says an apology won’t fix the past, and he wants more.

    He says they need to be on their own and deal with their own kids in their own culture, language and values. He says it’s the only thing he asks for.

    Province Offering Its Own Apology

    Ball says today’s apology has been a long time coming.

    The Newfoundland and Labrador government is planning an apology of its own for victims of residential schools in Labrador.

    Ball says the planning is already underway.

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