Lagimodiere’s introduction as Manitoba’s New Minister of Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations was disastrous.
By Maryam Razzaq
Moments after Alan Lagimodiere is sworn in as the new Minister of Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations by Premier Brian Pallister, he makes appalling and shocking remarks about the goal of residential schools.
At a time when Canada continues to be horrified by the thousands and counting unmarked graves being found across the nation, it was shocking to hear Lagimodiere’s comments around residential schools.
“From my knowledge of it, the residential school system was designed to take Indigenous children and give them the kind of skills and abilities they would need to fit into society as it moves forward,” Lagimodiere said.
His comments sparked an immediate polite yet firm response from Manitoba’s opposition leader, NDP Leader Wab Kinew.
“I cannot accept you saying what you just said about residential schools. It was the express intent of residential schools to kill the Indian in the child. It is not cultural relativism; it is not revisionist history for us to say that was wrong. You can’t be out here defending residential schools if you want to work with Indigenous communities,” said Kinew.
Let us be reminded as Canadians that Indigenous children were forcibly removed from the safety of their homes to attend residential schools as a form of forced assimilation to “kill the Indian in the child”.
The PC Caucus released a now deleted statement on Twitter accusing Kinew of political showmanship and bullying Lagimodiere.
Manitoba NDP Leader, Wab Kinew’s father was a survivor of the residential school system and many of the children in residential schools experienced sexual, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of those who ran the facilities across the nation.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) was extremely disappointed to witness the comments made by Lagimodiere.
“I find it appalling and reprehensible for the new Minister of Reconciliation and Northern Relations to misrepresent the intent of residential schools. It is shameful the comments from this new Minister and the Premier serve to make light of the deaths of thousands of children that have resulted from institutions and now are just being discovered. The first step to reconciliation is truth—and it’s essential that the Premier and his Ministers first acknowledge the truth of the genocidal intent of residential schools in Canada,” stated Grand Chief Settee.
Minister Alan Lagimodiere also released a statement, though an apology for his horrifying comments seemed to be missing.
“I sincerely believe that residential schools were tragic and were designed to assimilate Indigenous children and eradicate Indigenous culture. That was wrong then, and it is wrong now,” said Lagimodiere.
Lagimodiere has turned off his Twitter comments due to the criticism he faced for his ignorant comments about residential schools immediately after being sworn in as the new Minister of Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations.
“We instil in them a pronounced distaste for the native life so that they will be humiliated when reminded of their origin. When they graduate from our institutions, the children have lost everything Native except their blood” said Bishop Vital Grandin in 1875 about the goal of Residential Schools.