The Language Of Time : Stephen Harper 's Statement Of Apology

717 Words Apr 22nd, 2016 3 Pages
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 use of language indicating time establishes the Government of Canada’s current position in regards to the Indian Residential School system. The language indicative of the past tends to be descriptive and agentless at times, the language indicative of the present tends to acknowledge and condemn the past, and the language indicative of the future tends to unify and promote togetherness. The language referring to the past events is fairly straightforward, even somewhat understated, in describing what happened to children who attended these Indian Residential Schools, with the exception of taking responsibility for what happened. The clearest indicator of this lack of agency is in the beginning of the apology where the federal…

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