Calls continue to grow for MLA Linda Larson to apologize for her comments about residential schools.
“It is really sad, the ignorance of some people in Canada about residential schools,” said Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathon Kruger.
On July 7, during a meeting of the select standing committee on health, Larson posed a question to Richard Jock, chief operating officer for the First Nations Health Authority
“How long do you think before the legacy of those residential schools finally burns itself out of the First Nations people?”
Jock tried to answer her question, that “as long as our people feel uncomfortable with the system, as long as they feel that institutions are not friendly to them, then I think the legacy will not find its way out of the system.”
But as the story has spread about Larson’s question, and the similar question she followed it up with, so has the concern and the calls for an apology.
“It would be nice to do a public apology and come and talk to some of our social development people and understand clearly what the issues are before you open your mouth,” said Kruger.
During her stop in Penticton this week, Premier Christy Clark defended Larson’s comments, saying they were taken out of context.
“I think we all know the tragedy of residential schools. It is a terrible, shameful part of our history in Canada. Residential schools leave a legacy, through generations of unhealed wounds for people and I think what MLA Larson was saying, is asking how do we help heal those wounds?” said Clark.
“The First Nations people that were in the room didn’t express any offence at it, so I think we can follow their lead and take what she said to be what she meant, which was really trying to understand what we can do to heal those wounds.”
Kruger pointed out that the legacy of residential schools is 150 years of stripping First Nations people of their language and culture, alongside cases of mental, physical and sexual abuse.
“You can’t just snap your fingers and then it is over. This incident can never be forgotten. I agree with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip’s comments that they are never going to forget theholocaust,” said Kruger.