ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will apologize to former students of residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Thursday that Trudeau will apologize in Labrador.
‘Ultimately, it’s the right thing to do,” Cameron Ahmad, a spokesman for the prime minister, said Thursday.
“We’re committed to reconciliation. We’re committed to implementing the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission … that’s why we made this decision.”
Former prime minister Stephen Harper excluded the province’s former residential schools from a national apology and compensation package in 2008. But lawyers for about 800 former students argued Ottawa owed the same duty of care to them after the province joined Confederation in 1949.
The Trudeau government offered a $50-million package to settle claims of sexual and physical abuse along with loss of language and culture.
“The apology in 2008 made it seem like we didn’t exist and that we didn’t suffer in the same way that our fellow survivors across the nation suffered. We suffered as much as anyone and an apology, to me and other survivors, will go a long way towards our healing. Maybe I can finally put that tortured inner child to rest,” survivor Toby Obed said in statement.
Plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Cooper said Thursday federal representatives agreed at an Aug. 3 meeting in Goose Bay that survivors, their families and communities would be consulted on the apology.
“We recognize that the Prime Minister has many competing obligations and we sincerely appreciate that he will be working with us towards correcting the historic injustice of the residential school system generally and to the specific goal of correcting the incomplete and hurtful apology rendered by his predecessor in 2008,” said Cooper.