University of Manitoba president makes a public statement of apology

University of Manitoba seems to be apologizing for the part it played in the damage caused by Canada’s native residential schools. U of M’s president David Barnard appeared Wednesday in Halifax before the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Barnard said: “Our institution failed to recognize or challenge the forced assimilation of Aboriginal peoples and the subsequent loss of their language, culture and traditions. That was a grave mistake. It was our responsibility. We are sorry.”

President Barnard says the university failed to face up to the policy of forced assimilation that was central to the 130 residential schools that operated for over a century. Physical, sexual and emotional violence that took place at residential schools were among the most dreadful crimes in the history of Canada.

He also said that the university was indirectly involved in perpetuating the system by educating clergy, teachers, civil servants and politicians who carried out the assimilation policies.

Earlier on Tuesday, Barnard said: “We want to add our voice to the apologies already made by churches and government. We have educated the people who became clergy and teachers and politicians and became involved in the system. I’m going to be making, on behalf of the university, a public statement of apology and reconciliation.”

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