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Canada’s relationship with Aboriginal people needs to change: Archbishop Pettipas

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The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s long-awaited report includes 94 broad recommendations to help residential school healing. Archbishop Gerard Pettipas of the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan is in Ottawa for the national closing ceremony, and says he believes it’s time for Canada to look to the future.

“We can’t undo the residential schools; that’s history, and it’s a history that we don’t want to forget. How do we build Canada so that the peoples who were here way before the rest of us so they also feel like they are Canadians and benefit from the riches of this country?”

The report is the result of six years of study into the government funded, church run system, which ran for 120 years.  Its recommendations call for greater police independence, a national inquiry into the number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and an apology from the pope on behalf the Roman Catholic Church. Pettipas argues reconciliation will last forever, but there needs to be an attitude shift across the country.

“I hope that we can move toward a different relationship between natives and non-natives in Canada. There’s a whole lot of ignorance; there’s a whole lot of misunderstanding; I think there’s a certain bias, a certain bigotry, a certain racism that most Canadians deal with.”

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The report refers to the system as “cultural genocide” based on more than 6,700 witness and survivor testimony.

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