(Iqaluit, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. 1st Vice-President James Eetoolook expressed his surprise at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s statement, made at the G20 summit, that Canada “has no history of colonialism.”
“The Prime Minister cannot make such an inaccurate statement that clearly contradicts history. The history of Inuit interaction with the Government of Canada is a study in colonialism. Our history includes relocations, residential schools, forced settlements, dog slaughter, no voting right until the 1960s, no recognition of our land rights, and many other forms of colonialism that are still very fresh in our minds. What is more, this remark even contradicts his own statement in his Residential Schools Apology.” said Eetoolook.
In his June 11, 2008 apology for the federally-supported Residential Schools the Prime Minister stated “Two primary objectives of the Residential Schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture. These objectives were based on the assumption Aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, “to kill the Indian in the child”. Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.”
“The Prime Minister needs to clarify what he means. We took his apology on Residential Schools as genuine and sincere, but to say that Canada has no colonial history is to go in the opposite direction. This kind of statement arouses questions in our dealing with the federal government” said Eetoolook.”The Prime Minister should retract this statement and explain what he really meant.”