WINNIPEG — In Tuesday’s public health update, Premier Brian Pallister was asked about comments he made in July, after protesters toppled two statues on the Legislature grounds during a protest over the deaths of Indigenous children at residential schools.
Pallister suggested that settlers came here to build and not destroy things.
“I do apologize,” said Pallister. “I feel awful about the misunderstanding I caused with my comments.”
Many Indigenous leaders said his comments were revisionist, and down played the harmful effects of colonialism.
Grand Chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, Jerry Daniels doesn’t think the premier offered much of an apology.
“We don’t think that Pallister has the ability or capability, and I’m unsure even people in his cabinet have the capability to move in a direction of reconciliation,” said Daniels.
Daniels wants to see Pallister resign.
In a statement to CTV News, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okinakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in part:
“For weeks, Indigenous leaders have been calling for the resignation as well as an apology from Premier Brian Pallister in response to the untrue statements he made about the intentions behind residential schools.”
“I’m not sure that yesterday’s supposed apology goes far enough. The damage has already been done and the Premier continues to make it clear that he isn’t interested in advancing reconciliation.”
The Minister of Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations, Alan Lagimodiere was also in hot water last month when he tried to defend the intentions behind residential schools, is now saying they were a part of genocide.
“We need to move forward acknowledging how deeply wrong some of the decisions made by our past leaders were, and we need to acknowledge the impacts those decisions had,” said Lagimodiere.
Daniels was pleased with the minister’s new perspective.
“We’re quite happy to see that his language has shifted to recognize the genocide that has taken place in Manitoba,” said Daniels.
Daniels would like to see the same shift in Pallister’s language and actions moving forward.
Pallister said his initial comments were intended to unite Manitobans, and he’s hoping for forgiveness and understanding moving forward.
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