Ottawa, ON – The Hon. Candice Bergen, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and the Official Opposition, released the following statement on the anniversary of the Statement of Apology to Former Students of Residential Schools:

“In recent years, Canadians have come face to face with our country’s grim history concerning the mistreatment of Indigenous children in residential schools. They have been horrified to learn of the forced separation of children from their families, the physical and sexual abuse perpetrated in these schools, and the irreversible damage done to Indigenous languages, heritage, and culture.

“Fourteen years ago, the Government of Canada formally apologized to Indigenous peoples, and specifically to former students of residential schools for the suffering that was inflicted on these children and their families. This apology was a first step in the path to healing Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.

“While we can be grateful that a light is finally being shone on this dark chapter of our history, we cannot become apathetic to the advancement of Indigenous equality in Canada. Too many boil-water advisories remain in place on reserves. Indigenous women face a disproportionately high rate of domestic abuse. Indigenous communities often lack internet connectivity and other tools that would help them prosper.

“There is a lot of work left to do. Conservatives are committed to partnering with Indigenous communities to make sure they have the tools they need to build their future.

“This week, I had the chance to be in Kamloops to honour, and pay respect to the victims of residential schools, and hear from Indigenous leaders on how to advance reconciliation. As we commemorate the anniversary of the Statement of Apology to survivors of residential schools, we resolve to seek greater collaboration with Indigenous Canadians, as we work towards true healing.”