Stephen Harper Statement Of Apology To Former Students Of Indian Residential School Summary

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The Language of Time: An Analysis of Stephen Harper’s “Statement of Apology to Former Students of Indian Residential Schools” The Indian Residential School system was, as former Prime Minister Stephen Harper describes, “a sad chapter in [Canada’s] history” (1). The Indian Act of 1876 essentially passed guardianship of Aboriginal children to the Government of Canada, causing the education of these children to be the responsibility of the government. These Indian Residential Schools were created with the primary aim of assimilating Aboriginal children into “dominant culture” (Harper, 1). In 2008, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, using language indicating time to great effect. This …show more content…
The establishment of this oppositional stance is clear through declarations that the policies and attitudes that led to the creation of these schools “ha[ve] no place in our country” (Harper 1). The words used to in acknowledgement are also fairly blatant, repeating the word “recognize” many times throughout the apology, always in relation to a specific thing, such as policies or specific transgressions. Additionally, when the word “recognize” is used, it is almost always followed by a statement involving the term “we apologize”, “we” referring to the Government and the people of Canada. The present tense is where the Government of Canada can also be observed as taking responsibility for what happened. “The burden is properly ours as a Government, and as a country” (Harper 2). While not as clear as possibly saying something along the lines of “this is our fault”, stating that the “burden of this experience” is the government’s burden to bear rather than the Aboriginal peoples, shows a clear desire to help the Aboriginal peoples to heal from this experience (Harper …show more content…
He asserts that the government wants to support the Aboriginal community, constantly discussing “moving forward together” and building relationships (Harper 2). This unifying language enforces the desire of the government to do better in their treatment of Aboriginal peoples, and rectify problems in their treatment that have been and continue to be problems for the Aboriginal communities in Canada. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology does seem to be sincere. The inclusion of the past, while being described in a somewhat sparse and incomplete manner, shows that the government is not just overlooking and neglecting this darker part of Canada’s history. The present language admits to there being wrongdoings, and the language looking to the future indicates the government’s aspiration to improve their relationship with the Aboriginal communities and hopefully assist with solving some of the ongoing problems that the systemic discrimination of the Aboriginal peoples has

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