Human Rights


Second Reading speech on Bill C-210, Bill to Amend the National Anthem Act, October 27, 2016

Third Reading Speech on Bill C-14 (Medically Assisted Dying) - June 15, 2016

Speech on Bill C-14 (Medically Assisted Dying) - June 2, 2016

Inquiry on the disparities in First Nations education - December 2, 2014

Question on a public inquiry for missing and murdered Aboriginal women - March 26, 2014

Statement on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women - December 5, 2013

Blog: On International Women’s Day, Let’s Talk About Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women - March 8, 2013

Inquiry on missing and murdered Aboriginal women - March 7, 2013

Question on the elimination of benefits for migrant workers - December 12, 2012

Question on the underfunding of Aboriginal schools - December 6, 2012

Question on the underfunding of Aboriginal schools - December 4, 2012

Question on the status of water as a fundamental human right - June 5, 2012

Question on the 2012 budget and international aid - April 24, 2012

Question on funding for First Nations education - February 15, 2012

Statement on International Women’s Day - March 8, 2012

Statement on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women - December 6, 2011

Motion to recognize the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day - March 8, 2011

Inquiry on the state of Pluralism, Diversity and Racism in Canada - February 8, 2011

Inquiry on the Environment and Human Rights - October 19, 2010

Questions on cuts to Womanspace - May 6, 2010

Questions on the G8 maternal health initiative - April 28, 2010

Statement on the International Day of Tolerance - March 23, 2010

Tribute to Glori Meldrum and Little Warriors - October 29 2009

Support of the motion to recognize the Famous Five as Honorary Senators - October 8, 2009

Apology to Students of Indian Residential Schools - June 11, 2008

Inquiry on the Effects of Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the Rights of Canadians and Prerogatives of Parliament - April 17, 2007

Statement on the “Building World Peace” International Conference - October 25, 2006

Human Rights

Apology to Students of Indian Residential Schools

June 12, 2008

Representatives of Aboriginal Community Received in Committee of the Whole

On the Order:

The Senate in Committee of the Whole in order to hear from Phil Fontaine, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations; Mary Simon, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; Clem Chartier, President of the Metis National Council; and Patrick Brazeau, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, respecting the government’s statement of apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools.

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, leaders of our First Nations, on behalf of the Liberal opposition in the Senate of Canada, it is with great pride and solemnity that I welcome leaders of our First Nations here in the upper chamber.

I know I speak for all my colleagues when I say how deeply honoured we are that you have agreed to be here to formally reply to the statement of apology the Prime Minister made in the other place yesterday.

By its very design, vocation and history, the Senate of Canada has always been the chamber of Parliament that gives a voice to minorities. Today, your presence before our Committee of the whole is an historic event and clearly in keeping with the mission of this upper chamber.

Tolerance caravan
Furthermore, we have the privilege of accepting, hearing and recording for posterity your response to the apology presented yesterday by the Prime Minister and the leaders of the other parties.

We know that the road you have travelled to reach this historic moment has been long, fraught with difficulties and punctuated by delays, obstacles and reversals.

By attempting to crush the pride of the First Nations and eradicate their Aboriginal identity, the Indian residential schools policy destroyed your social fabric and family traditions and tarnished the memory of our collective history.

For you, it is a deep and painful wound that is slow to heal. For us, it is the shame of having wrongfully thrust you into the destructive shadows cast by this episode. We admire your courage in the face of the unjust, disgraceful and deplorable treatment you received. Together with our colleagues in the other chamber, we extend our most sincere apologies.

Caravan of Tolerance

Children were separated from their families for long periods of time, punished for speaking their native language and stripped of their traditions. Subjected to mental, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of those claiming to civilize them, many died from disease and neglect, while others survived in lives of despair.

Yesterday the government, on behalf of all of us, provided a long awaited and needed apology. We all hope that concrete actions will now follow to prove our sincerity and good faith by helping to heal the wounds.

May your words help pave the way towards atonement, healing and reconciliation, and let the words from a Greek tragedy remind us that wisdom can be learned from this tragedy and that a new chapter in the story of our partnership is indeed possible:

In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, and against our will comes wisdom.

Honoured guests, we respectfully seek your guidance on how we can all move forward and strengthen our partnership for the benefit of all of us and for our future generations.

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