MEDIA Q.INC: Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge and Kenny Blacksmith of
Gathering Nations International to launch the National Forgiven Summit
taking place in Ottawa June 11-13, 2010, which will be a public
response to Prime Minister Harper's 2008 apology and a call to embrace
forgiveness and begin a road of healing.
Rod Bruinooge: Good morning. It's a great honour to share this stage
with Dr. James Lenny and of course Kenny Blacksmith for the reason
which of course we decided to hold this press conference today is all
the work that Kenny has been doing, Kenny and his team. And that work
of course is leading up to this Saturday, and that's what this press
conference is about, to talk about Gathering Nations and the work that
they've done to put together an incredible summit which will help
release forgiveness for First Nations, Metis and Inuit people across
this country, heralding back to the moment that Prime Minister Harper
apologized for the residential school era.
And this upcoming summit was inspired by Kenny and his, all of his
team to put together so that First Nations people can release their
forgiveness. So I couldn't be happier then to have this press
conference to help Kenny Blacksmith get the message out to all
Canadians about this important event this Saturday. So I'm going to
give the mike over to him to let him tell us about this important
Kenny Blacksmith: Thank you Rod. (Native language). It's good to be
with you this morning and be able to just share the heart of our
people from across the nation. The June 11th, 2008 apology from the
Prime Minister Stephen Harper recognizing the past historic wrongs and
profound failures of our nation and the government of Canada on our
people for the Indian residential school programs was issued back two
years ago, two years now to this day that we get a chance to respond.
As a national coalition of First Nation, Inuit and Metis individuals
will have chosen to respond in a way that would open the door for
further healing, reconciliation and freedom from a negative past.
And so this is the reason why we want to do this cause we believe what
the Prime Minister said two years ago was a key to our healing, was a
key to our freedom for our people. And so we have challenged our
people across the nation for the last five months going from coast to
coast and coast and going from the furthest north to the furthest
south that we can, meeting with our people and just sitting down with
our people and talking with our chiefs, talking with our elders,
talking with parents, talking with the youth and being able just to
say to them you know it's time that we took an opportunity to respond
to the Prime Minister and to be able to say to him Mr. Prime Minister,
we are ready. We are ready to release forgiveness, we are ready to say
we forgive for the very things that you have expressed.
And we also want to take the time to acknowledge that various party
leaders and the members of parliament that were in consensus, that
were in agreement in support of what they have expressed at June 11,
2008. So we're excited that this is a time that there's going to be
one of those defining moments that our nation will see that Canada is
going to be a place of restored relationships and visions and dreams
that tomorrow will be a better tomorrow and a better place for all our
people. And so we're looking to June 11, 12 and 13, just a few days
from now, thousands of people are going to gather together at the
Ottawa Civic Centre.
And so we just want to tell Mr. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and all
the members of parliament that we honour you and we thank you for what
you have done. And so we invite everyone to be with us. Thank you very
Rod Bruinooge: So I don't know if there are questions from anybody
here about this, otherwise I will just make some closing remarks. Are
there any questions?
Question: If there are closing remarks maybe after I'll ask.
Rod Bruinooge: Okay. Well first I just want to acknowledge as a member
of parliament that we had terrible things happen historically in this
country by programs and policies that had unintended consequences and
in some cases were simply misguided. And it caused some terrible
wounding to First Nations people. But they've been on a journey of
recovery and on a journey of coming into who they are and in walking
with Kenny Blacksmith and some of the leaders that are working with
him we've come to recognize and understand and know and our experience
with First Nations people are actually very spiritual people.
And they've been on their own journey and I'm, as a member of
parliament I'm very excited about the initiative that Kenny and his
colleagues have brought together, bringing people with a heart who
want to express forgiveness in response to what the Prime Minister's
apology. And we respect that and as members of parliament many of us
will be staying this weekend to participate and to hear the message
that these First Nations have come collectively to share with their
government, with the members of parliament and with the people of
And it's about as Kenny said about relationship, we had a long history
of difficult relationships and it's time to learn to walk together as
one people in this country respecting differences and embracing and
encouraging one another that we can make and see Canada become all
that it can be. And we're hopeful for a better future and I'm just
delighted to be here standing with Kenny as we've been learning to
walk together for the, for a better future for all of our peoples.
So thank you for coming and we look forward to a great weekend this
week as people come together simply to learn a new walk. Thank you
Moderator: Okay Nigel did you have a question or two?
Question: I mean in terms of the apology a lot of it is about
recognizing failure, right. So a lot of aboriginal people I think
still argue there's a lot of failure still gong on. There's tons of
road blockades throughout the summer over the HST, there's still land
claim disputes going on, the UN declaration. You know there seems to
be some stalling there, S4, I mean the list kind of goes on and on.
Can you say things are actually better now then they were before the
Rod Bruinooge: Well I think maybe I'll start by answering and then
I'll offer the mike to the other guests. But I think the apology was a
specific event, 2008 which many Prime Ministers hadn't yet apologized
for the residential school era. So the Prime Minister did offer that
apology and I think that was meant for a specific era in our history.
And so I would say most aboriginal people would see the apology as a
genuine expression that is helping them get over a very traumatic
period in many peoples.
And just like that apology addressed the specific era, I think Kenny's
efforts are helping aboriginal people also go further by helping them
release forgiveness which I think is something that actually benefits
the person who is doing the forgiving more then those that are being
forgiven. It's actually an important, it's an important action that
can help you in your own personal life. So I think that's essentially
what this event is about.
I think aboriginal people are going to have issues with any government
of the day, just like any other Canadian they're going to be on one
side of a policy or another side of a policy. And so I think there's
always going to be disagreements about public policy. But I think this
event and the apology were very specific for that very traumatic era
in our history.
Question: Do you feel though that things, that the apology has helped
improve things though?
Rod Bruinooge: Absolutely. I would say that the apology had a genuine
impact on peoples lives, peoples perception of Canada and the
government and it's not a cure all, it's not going to fix every
problem we have but it was an important step, we're better off, far
better off with the apology then without it. Kenny I don't know if you
want to speak to that.
Kenny Blacksmith: Well I think it's important, yes, that we do
recognize is over 140 years of this impact of this Indian residential
school policy was really was very negative and very much racist in
assimilation, you know the assimilation of our people. However I think
we need to have vision, we need to have hope, we need to grab onto
something that will give life in spite of all the difficulties that we
And a vision is not reactionary to a past. And so I think part of the
journey of our healing is to be able to say to our people we can move
forward, we can achieve a meaningful future. And this is only one step
that we can do and it's a major step, it's probably the biggest step
that our people ever take in their healing is to be able to say to the
government that has apologized, that has recognized their involvement
in the implementation of a policy that's so profoundly affected our
people that our people are able to say to that particular part of
history, you know we can turn a page. We can move forward and we can
do things better.
And yes there's a lot of work that needs to be done but if, as a
healed person I'm able to do much more then as a wounded person. And
so I think this is the key. What happened two years ago was very
fundamental to our freedom and equal opportunity to work with all
people in Canada.
Question: Is this strictly a spiritual event or this kind of
overlapping the politics as well?
Kenny Blacksmith: Well you know we have said that forgiveness is not
political because we know that we'll never come to an agreement on the
political level. And we also said forgiveness is not legislative
knowing that there's so much legal issues surrounding the whole
matter. But we said that you know forgiveness is spiritual, a
spiritual being that it does require an individual response to deal
with the pain and the wounds. And this goes way beyond just the Indian
residential school problem. You know it touches the very heart of
one's life you know in a family, in the community. And when we have
Canada being a wounded Canada, it's so harder to achieve meaningful
progress that we all long for. But when a people are a healed people
we can do so much more for one another and for our nation.
Rod Bruinooge: Thank you.