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OTTAWA, April 28 – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Phil Fontaine today offered congratulations to Justice Harry Laforme as the newly appointed Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). “I can think of no one better than Justice Harry LaForme to Chair the Truth Commission. Not only is he a proud First Nations citizen, he is an outstanding jurist and a compassionate and understanding person,” said National Chief Phil Fontaine. “I have no doubt he will leave no stone unturned in his investigation of exactly what happened in residential schools, the harm caused, why and how it happened and who was responsible. At the same time, he will bring the grace and compassion required in the Truth Commission’s work so necessary for healing to begin.”
Truth and Reconciliation is a novel legal concept, and the Truth Commission will be the first commission of its kind conducted in any first world country. It will help to educate Canadians about their history and bring greater understanding between First Nations and Canada. The TRC will shed light on one of the darkest chapters in Canada’s history, a history that all Canadians should be aware of but which has been largely hidden or misunderstood until now.
The Assembly of First Nations will be announcing, with the Minister, the appointment of two more commissioners in the near future so that the Commission can start its important work as soon as possible.
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission could be a turning point in First Nations’ relationship with Canada. It will be able to set the historical record straight and give our people an opportunity to speak to Canadians in a way they have never been able to do before. There will be no more secrets,” said the National Chief.
The TRC is part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which was negotiated and signed by the AFN in 2006 on behalf of residential school survivors. It is the largest settlement in Canadian history, which also includes payment for survivors to compensate for loss of language and culture, and a more efficient and effective process to deal with serious claims of abuse.
“We have always believed that the settlement agreement is not only about compensation, but also about healing and reconciliation between First Nations and Canada. Today’s appointment represents another milestone for residential school survivors and First Nations in moving forward on the healing journey,” stated the National Chief.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
For further information: Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor, Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789 ext 243, cell (613) 298-6382, email@example.com; Joan McEwen, Director of Communications, (613) 241-6789 ext 242, firstname.lastname@example.org
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