Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad has issued the following statement:
“Today, national leaders and Anglican Church representatives will join residential school survivors, First Nations leaders and community members in a special ceremony to mark the demolition of St. Michael’s Indian Residential School in Alert Bay.
“St. Michael’s is a symbol and stark reminder of a dark chapter in our history. From the 1870s to 1996, more than 150,000 Aboriginal children in Canada were removed from their homes and placed in government-funded, church-run schools like St. Michael’s.
“We recognize the deep scars inflicted on children who attended these schools. And we acknowledge and honour the courage of survivors, their families and all those who suffered. As we look to the future, we share a great hope and optimism for healing and reconciliation.
“St. Michael’s Indian Residential School was closed in 1974, and the physical building will soon be demolished. But its place in history should never be forgotten, and what happened there can never be changed. Healing the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal British Columbians continues. It will take sincere effort, education and understanding of what happened to survivors, their families and all the children who were there.
“Reconciliation is a collective journey and an opportunity for all of us to contribute to healing those terrible wounds created by Indian Residential Schools. Together, we must and can create a new path, and move forward with dignity in the true spirit of reconciliation.”
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation