This paper is a reflection of the Canadian National Apology. I settled for this topic because I found it commendable that the government acknowledged its mistakes against the indigenous people; a national apology helps all of us recognize the historical wrongs that were done. However, from a young age, we learn that an apology should be followed by a change in behavior.
The issuance of an apology by Prime Minister Stephen Harper for historical injustices is a symbolic acknowledgment of the government’s role in past wrongs and also a political acceptance of the indigenous and the marginalized people in the community. To the Canadians, the apology and the federal national day for commemorating the grievances of the indigenous are meaningful and somehow a symbol of respect to the country’s history. The national apology was a positive step, particularly for the younger people to also know the facts about the injustices that happened and the adverse effects of the same to prevent future reoccurrence and also help accelerate sensitive relationships between the Canadians and the indigenous community.
The national apology was a critical moment in Canada’s history and the step to healing. Truth and Reconciliation Commission was seen to be a first step in the process of healing and moving forward. However, the indigenous communities, as well as some people in general, have remained ambivalent to date because the polices directions toward the indigenous communities seem to contradict the apology.
First of all, the indigenous communities seek remedies that go far beyond the stolen generation and the residential schools that were addressed by Harper. Although the federal government, as well as national provinces, have taken up steps to handle reconciliation, the national apology seems as a presumption that the historical injustices are no longer happening, which is further from the truth.
It is a bit problematic that there isn’t authenticity or a genuine gesture of forgiveness relative to the people that were wronged. For example, almost two decades later, the rate of poverty for the indigenous people far exceeds the rate of non-indigenous, including the immigrants. The median income for the indigenous is equally lower than that of the overall people. The rates of unemployment are also exponentially higher for the indigenous communities than the rest of the population. These statistics are particularly troubling when we compare the demographics of the indigenous and the immigrants in Canada. It appears that the Canadian government has been sadly more lenient to the immigrants, than the Fast Generation. Unfortunately, the indigenous are among the most disadvantaged in Canada. Systematic biases, discriminatory policies, and socioeconomic challenges have placed the indigenous vulnerable to social and economic difficulties. It mainly concerns that the involvement of the indigenous community in commercial, education, and social welfare is still at its lowest. The indigenous communities disproportionately suffer in all significant aspects of their lives to date, including access to health care.
It is extremely disheartening. The national apology has done nothing to wipe the historical injustices that were done to the First Nation. An apology is plausibly not enough to heal the past wrongs; what the government needs is to take up policies that aim at supporting the indigenous and raising them out of poverty. This calls for investment in long term healing for the indigenous and non-indigenous communities through cultural reclamation and government long term investment in education and literacy. History cannot be changed, but it would be satisfying for the government to make life better for the latter generation. It creates hope and a purpose in knowing that the struggle has been fruitful.