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Ottawa, ON (January 18, 2007) – Clément Chartier, President of the Métis National Council, expressed disappointment today with respect to the Conservative Government’s announcement it would not follow through on its election commitment to include the Ile a la Crosse Residential School in the Government of Canada’s Residential School compensation package. The Ile a la Crosse Residential School was attended by a significant number of Métis students from throughout Northern Saskatchewan.
During the last federal election campaign, the Conservative Party released a radio ad in Northern Saskatchewan in which Conservative Leader Stephen Harper stated, “… a Conservative government in Ottawa would address issues important to Aboriginal people, including full compensation for residential school survivors, including those who attended the Ile a la Crosse school.”
Today, in an interview with CBC Radio, the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister for Indian Affairs and Federal Interlocutor for Métis stated this commitment to the Ile a la Cross students would not be fulfilled. Minister Prentice was quoted as saying, “the full knowledge of facts that we have today, confirm that the school (Ile a la Crosse) doesn’t qualify …. The ad takes a different assumption that was in error and that’s unfortunate but when one knows the facts of the school, it simply doesn’t qualify under the agreement, and … that full knowledge wasn’t available at the time that the ad was run.”
President Chartier reacted by stating, “This new development is extremely disheartening for Métis students who attended the Ile a la Crosse Residential School and who believed they were finally going to be compensated for the abuse and suffering they endured at the school. In light of this unfortunate error, I am hopeful the Conservative Government will commit to working with the Métis of Northern Saskatchewan in order to develop a distinct compensation package for the students of the Ile a la Crosse Residential School. I am encouraged to hear the Conservative Government will be following through on the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range compensation package for the four Métis communities in northwest Saskatchewan. Therefore, I am hopeful in a similar manner, a separate compensation arrangement can be developed for the survivors of the Ile a la Crosse Residential School.”
“I hope to meet with Minister Prentice in the near future to discuss this important issue and secure a commitment from him to engage a process that can lead to the Ile a la Crosse Residential School survivors being treated justly and compensated,” concluded President Chartier.
The Métis National Council’s representative to the national Residential School Survivors Society, Don Faval, a resident of Ile a la Crosse and former student at the Ile a la Crosse residential school, expressed his concern for the impact this will have on the affected Métis he represents, “this tragic part of our life is being treated as a political issue when it’s convenient for votes while it should be dealt with as a basic human right. Nevertheless, a commitment was made and must be honoured. In the final analysis, it is the responsibility of the federal government, whichever party is in power, to deal with this issue and settle it once and for all.”
The MNC represents the Métis Nation in Canada at the national and international level. The Métis Nation’s homeland includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the northern United States. There are approximately 350,000 – 400,000 Métis Nation citizens in Canada. Métis represent more than 25% of the total Aboriginal population in Canada according to the 2001 Census.
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