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Gathering Nations International to launch the National Forgiven Summit taking place in Ottawa June 11-13

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 event.

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 much.

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 Canada.

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 very much.

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 apology?

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 have.

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.

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