As Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla prepare to visit Canada this week, some members of the indigenous community are calling on the British royal family to formally acknowledge the harm colonization did to First Nations people.
The royal couple will arrive in St. Johns, Newfoundland on Tuesday on a three-day trip that will include stops in Ottawa and the Northwest Territories and focus on the issues of reconciliation with indigenous peoples and climate change.
The impact of colonization, the residential school system and the loss of lands is what the crown represents, Mary Teegee, the executive director of child and family services at Carrier Sekani Family Services in the province of British Columbia, told Reuters.
“They also have to understand that they are not the leaders in our nation,” Teegee said, adding that recognition of the harms of colonization are needed rather than just a “trite” apology.
Although Canada ceased being a colony of Britain in 1867, it remained a member of the British Empire, with a British-appointed governor-general acting on behalf of the monarch.
And it was under the guise of the crown and Canada’s federal government that some 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and enrolled in a Christian-run network of residential schools between 1831 and 1996.
That policy, described by some as a form of cultural genocide, and survivors’ accounts of harsh, paramilitary-like conditions have been under the microscope since the discovery in 2021 of the remains of more than 200 children buried in unmarked areas on the grounds of one such school in B.C.
CBC News on Monday quoted Cassidy Caron, the president of the Métis National Council, an indigenous group, as saying Queen Elizabeth should apologize to the residential school survivors.
Caron said she plans to deliver that message when she meets Charles, the heir to the British throne, and Camilla during their visit, which is part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations marking the queen’s seven decades on the throne. (Reuters)