Government of Canada Marks Historic Apology to Former Indian Residential Schools Students

Ref. #2-3666

Minister Duncan and Métis artist Christi Belcourt
Minister Duncan and Métis artist Christi Belcourt at the unveiling of artwork commemorating the legacy of former Indian Residential School students and their families.

OTTAWA, ONTARIO (June 11, 2012) – The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, today unveiled artwork commemorating the legacy of former Indian Residential School students and their families. Métis artist Christi Belcourt's  artwork will be transformed into stained glass and installed in Centre Block on Parliament Hill.

"The Harper Government continues to take steps to promote reconciliation between Aboriginal people, their families and communities, and all Canadians," said Minister Duncan. "Four years ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Apology established the foundation for a new relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians: one that is based on mutual respect and a desire to move forward together in partnership."

Canada's commitment to reconciliation will be visible to all visitors to Parliament Hill. Through this artwork, they will experience Canada's commemoration of the families and communities of those who were profoundly affected by the schools' legacy.

"This design depicts healing and reconciliation between Aboriginal people and all Canadians," explained selection committee Chair Stephen Inglis. "The design, entitled "Giniigaaniimenaaning", which means 'Looking Ahead', tells a story of Aboriginal peoples, cultures and languages through dark times and reflects the healing and resiliency of Aboriginal traditions and languages. This is a story that is an important part of Canadian history, one which needs to be better known."

"We cannot forget that for over 100 years Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families to attend residential schools. The effects of the residential schools era are still felt deeply within our communities; however, our Peoples are healing and regaining our strength," said Christi Belcourt. "This stained glass window is important as it commemorates a significant point in history when in 2008 the Prime Minister of Canada apologized to the Aboriginal Peoples, and it will forever serve as a reminder to all of Canada and future generations."

This stained glass window has been made possible through the support of the Honourable Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the House of Commons. The selection committee, which was comprised of leading Aboriginal art experts and former Indian Residential School students, unanimously recommended that this design be accepted as the design of the stained glass window. Given the significance of the Apology delivered in Parliament in June 2008, the window will be installed in Centre Block directly above the Members' entrance. The window is expected to be installed in Centre Block in late 2012.

For more information, please contact:

Minister's Office
Jan O'Driscoll
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable John Duncan
Media Relations
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

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