Sask. NDP calls on premier to apologize for two residential schools

The Saskatchewan NDP is asking Premier Scott Moe to make a formal apology on behalf of the province to the people who attended or were affected by the Ile-a-la-Crosse and Timber Bay residential schools.

Both schools, located in northern Saskatchewan, were run by religious organizations in the province. Because they were not run by the federal government, they were not included in the Indian Residential School Settlement process.

The schools received funding from the provincial and federal governments at the time they were running.

“The operations of these two residential schools in Saskatchewan was a dark chapter in the history of our province - a chapter that occurred under the watch of successive governments of different political stripes,” NDP Leader Ryan Meili said.

“We cannot change that past, but as leaders today, we’re responsible for acknowledging the history, admitting fault, accepting responsibility and moving forward in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.”

In addition to the apology, the NDP would like to see the premier pressure the federal government to include the Timber Bay Residential School in the Indian Residential School Settlement process to ensure survivors and their families receive compensation.

The NDP would also like the province to work with survivors’ groups from both schools to agree on appropriate compensation. It said the money for the compensation should come from both the provincial and federal governments.

“It is one thing to stand up and show remorse and regret. It is one thing to talk about how badly things were done in residential schools and we all agree,” Meili said. “It is quite another to do more than point fingers elsewhere and take responsibility yourself. I’ve sent a letter to the premier asking him to do that.”

Betty Nippi-Albright, the NDP critic for First Nations and Métis relations, said it is long past time for both levels of government to take responsibility for what happened at these two schools.

“In the abuse, neglect, loss of language and culture and violence that many First Nations and Métis people were subjected to in these institutions,” she said. “Only by acknowledging and confronting the wrong that was done to Indigenous people and communities can we work to real truth and reconciliation.”

The NDP said there were likely hundreds of people who attended these two schools.

The Government of Saskatchewan says it is committed to lasting and ongoing reconciliation with First Nations and Métis partners.

“With respect to the Timber Bay and Ile-a-la-Crosse schools, litigation against the Government of Saskatchewan related to both schools was commenced in 2001 and 2006 respectively. This litigation remains before the courts,” the province said in a written statement.

It said because of the legal status of these files, it cannot comment further.