CANADA: Video marks 15 years since primate's apology to Aboriginals

August 5, 2008

On August 6, 1993, Archbishop Michael Peers, then-Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, stood before the National Native Convocation in Minaki, Ontario and apologized for his church's involvement in residential schools. The Anglican Church of Canada had helped administer around three dozen schools between 1820 and 1969, and many students had suffered emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.


Peers spoke these words: "I am sorry, more than I can say, that we were part of a system that took you and your children from home and family. I am sorry, more than I can say, that we tried to remake you in our image, by taking from you your language and your signs of identity."

Moments later, Vi Smith, an Aboriginal elder, formally accepted this apology.

A new online video marks the apology's 15th anniversary, both with clips from the 1993 event and reflections from the current primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, on what has happened since then. (See link below for video.)

Since that August day, Peers' words have been frequently referenced as a turning point in the relationship between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals in the Anglican Church of Canada. The full text has been distributed widely, and can be read online, in both English and Oji-Cree. (See links below.)

In the video, Hiltz explains how the church "has faithfully tried to live this apology and accompany words with action." He mentions the residential schools working group, the primate's special envoy for residential schools, and the Anglican Healing Fund, which has contributed more than $3.25 million to 330 Aboriginal healing projects since 1991.

The Anglican Church of Canada has also worked to raise awareness about the history and legacy of residential schools. Most recently, a delegation of Anglicans visited Ottawa to witness Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apology to residential school survivors on June 11, 2008. The church was also a partner in the Remembering the Children tour, which promoted Canada's truth and reconciliation commission on residential schools.

Watch the online video marking 15 years since the primate's apology here.

Read the primate's 1993 apology in English here.

Download the primate's 1993 apology in Oji-Cree syllabics here.

Learn about the history of Anglican residential schools here.

Read about the Anglican Church of Canada's current Aboriginal justice work here.

Visit the Remembering the Children tour website.