Monday, June 22, 2009

National Aboriginal Day reminds us there's lots still to be done

Before it slips my mind, it's useful to note that yesterday was National Aboriginal Day across Canada. Ceremonies were held across the country. Some of this was celebratory, of course, but there are some sad things to remember, too, including Canada's sad legacy with regard to residential schools, as this story in the Globe reminds us.
While National Aboriginal Day was marked across the country yesterday with celebrations of culture and community gathering, in Saskatoon there was a sombre tone as survivors of Indian residential schools were honoured.

Speakers included Ted Quewezance, who was taken from his family at the age of five and shipped to a residential school, where he said he was sexually abused for five years.

"I remember the day I was taken away," said Mr. Quewezance, whose voice broke as he talked about the difficulty of reliving his childhoor horrors.

Survivors have already received apologies and compensation from the federal government, and earlier this year Pope Benedict expressed sorrow for what had happened at the schools, about 75 per cent of which were run by the Catholic Church.
And, of course, is the lingering challenges with reforming the Indian Act and making native self-government a reality.

For coverage of a lot of these issues, it is worth visiting, Meaghan Walker Williams blog as well as the official Meaghan Walker Williams article archive (for several years she reported for the MSM on aboriginal issues).