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Economic injustice in Canada must be dealt with as a part of the reconciliation process with the First Nations, says the daughter of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The remarks were made by Bernice King, who is the president of the King Center for Non-Violent Social Change, on Saturday in Vancouver, a day ahead of the start of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission concerning the controversial residential school system.
King said a history of pain and abuse cannot be erased with an apology, and money for programs will not undo the suffering that can take generations to overcome, but empowering people with economic opportunities is the key to their well being.
In addition, King said she had felt helpless hearing about the neglect suffered by young aboriginals who were forcibly taken from their homes and sent to the government-funded residential schools, where many were subjected to emotional, physical and sexual mistreatment.
“The manner in which people, human beings, have been treated, it's inexcusable,”
She also pointed out that society as a whole must take responsibility for past wrongs and take steps to foresee a different future.
"The reality is that although you have a historical context you also have current policies and behavior and attitudes that kind of reinforce the pain."
She continued by saying, "So going forward, there have to be opportunities made to truly empower First Nations people. That's the same struggle we [African Americans] face, a little bit different from theirs, in America."
The events to be held at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are part of a series of national gatherings to inform Canadians about the residential school system through testimonies from former students and their families.
An estimated 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their homes and culture, often against their parents' will and sent away to one of over 130 government-funded boarding schools, with the aim to assimilate them and crush their cultures. The first schools opened in the 1870's and the last one was closed in 1996. Read More »
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posted September 22, 2013 11:10 am edt