Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour all the grandmothers and grandfathers, the young and the old, to acknowledge the pain and struggle of generations of my indigenous brothers and sisters.
I rise today to honour the apology, which thousands across our great country witnessed two years ago. We honour this occasion with openness and honesty.
While I appreciate the minister's statement today, to my ears and to many others it rings hollow.
It rings hollow because this year the government ended funding for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. It did so despite the fact that the funding provided valuable services to residential school survivors.
It rings hollow because the educational funding gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students is still an obstacle to overcoming the residential schools legacy. We, as a country, cannot afford to lose even one student in this generation, or waste any opportunity to plant the seed of education in a mind, in a community, and in a nation.
It rings hollow because the government has not kept its promise to address the issues surrounding those schools which were similar to the Indian residential schools. The Prime Minister himself made a promise to Ile-a-la Crosse in Saskatchewan. He has yet to honour those words. In Labrador former boarding school students have had to resort to a class action suit to have their voices heard and obtain justice.
It rings hollow when more than 8,000 aboriginal children are in care and the government will not listen to their pleas for more help.
It rings hollow when hundreds of aboriginal women and girls have gone missing or murdered and the outcry is little more than a whimper.
The apology was historic, it was moving, it was overdue. Unfortunately, the sincerity of the government has been in question in the days and months since. Whether through the hurtful words of a government member two years ago, or through the actions and inactions since, the words spoken in this chamber are in doubt.
The apology was significant, but it must be imbued with a true sense of reconciliation and real change.