Prime Minster Justin Trudeau will be in Labrador today to formally apologize to hundreds of Newfoundland and Labrador residential school survivors, but the event is being rejected by Innu Nation leaders who say the apology doesn’t go far enough.
Between 1949 and 1979, thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their communities to attend residential schools that were run by the International Grenfell Association (IGA) or Moravians. Many claim they were sexually and physically abused, and suffered language and cultural losses.
About 1,000 students who attended residential schools accepted a $50-million settlement last year from the Trudeau government after launching a class-action lawsuit. Those same students were not included in a settlement and apology in 2008 by then Prime Minister Steven Harper.
Harper didn’t apologize to the N.L. school survivors because the boarding schools they attended were not run by the Canadian federal government itself. The schools were set up before Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949.
Trudeau will deliver the apology at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay at 10:30 a.m. The special ceremony was meant to be a step towards healing between governments and the Indigenous people of Newfoundland and Labrador, but the Innu Nation has announced it will not attend the event.
In a statement released late Thursday night, Innu leaders said the residential schools were only one part of their experience.The statement said besides the abuse of Innu children in IGA and Moravian schools, abuse also took place in Roman Catholic schools and in the homes of missionaries and teachers in the communities of Sheshatshiu and Davis Inlet, as well as at the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s — and that those cases are not being recognized in the apology.