Mr. Speaker, I can talk about this subject, because when it comes to language and culture, I know what I am talking about. This is the only political comment I will make today. In Quebec, we are threatened by the 350 million people around us who speak English. I respect them, but we are nevertheless in danger.
I remember the Algonquins very well. The Algonquins of Pikogan come to mind, but I could also be talking about the aboriginals from Obedjiwan and the Innu, who were also rapped on the knuckles to teach them right from wrong when they were children. As soon as the priest heard the word “meegwetch”, they would get the strap, even though he did not understand what it meant. That word was not understood.
These children would spend their summers with their parents on the banks of Grand Lac Victoria. Obviously, when children of five, six, seven or eight years old are taken from their land, put into a residential school, and forced not only to learn French but, above all, to learn the history of Canada, which, at the time, described all Indians as bad, this would be hard, and very painful. Some people had a very hard time getting over their experiences, and some are still having difficulties today.
Indeed, a culture can be lost, especially when young children are taken away and forced to go through what these kids experienced, that is, being assimilated from the age of five, six, seven or eight. This is where we must absolutely recognize our error, admit that Canada made a mistake and apologize. It is the first thing that is needed to begin to mend our relationship.With such an acknowledgement and a sincere apology, I think our relationship with Canada's first nations will never be the same.