Apol­ogy fails to ad­dress big­ger race ques­tion

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The prob­lem with Premier Scott Moe’s Six­ties Scoop apol­ogy wasn’t that it was im­per­fect … although why it was im­per­fect likely speaks to the much big­ger prob­lem that still didn’t get ad­dressed Mon­day.As we teach our kids, the el­e­ments of an apol­ogy re­quire you to: say sorry, be sorry, and, do some­thing to show you’re sorry. Moe’s apol­ogy Mon­day morn­ing ful­filled the first two el­e­ments, but left only a glim­mer of hope of ful­fil­ment of that most crit­i­cal third el­e­ment.Of course, de­trac­tors are al­ready ar­gu­ing he and his Saskatchewan Party gov­ern­ment fell well short of the first and sec­ond el­e­ment. Their crit­i­cism seems to be that, while Moe did ut­ter the word “sorry,” he failed to do so with the needed con­vic­tion or ac­com­pa­ny­ing ad­mis­sion to demon­strate true re­morse. This opin­ion views it oth­er­wise.“We failed the sur­vivors we heard from in the shar­ing cir­cles, and so many oth­ers. We failed their fam­i­lies. We failed their com­mu­ni­ties. We failed,” Moe told those he re­ferred to as “Six­ties Scoop Sur­vivors” in the ro­tunda of the Leg­isla­tive Build­ing.“On be­half of the Gov­ern­ment of Saskatchewan … on be­half of the peo­ple of Saskatchewan … I stand be­fore you to­day to apol­o­gize … to say sorry. We are sorry for the pain and sad­ness you ex­pe­ri­enced. We are sorry for the loss of cul­ture and lan­guage ...“To all those who lost con­tact with their fam­ily, we are so sorry.”This was an apol­ogy that re­peat­edly said the nec­es­sary words, in­clud­ing the words: “we failed.”Ad­mit­tedly, there were flaws in the text of the apol­ogy, in­clud­ing its brief Sask. Party cam­paign com­mer­cial for ex­ist­ing gov­ern­ment “em­ploy­ment, health and cul­tural pro­grams” and what amounted to an apol­ogy “to those who man­aged the fos­ter and adop­tion pro­grams” who be­lieved “they had a moral and le­gal obli­ga­tion to act.”Had there been more moral­ity at the time of the Six­ties Scoop, Moe wouldn’t be apol­o­giz­ing to­day.An apol­ogy needs to be un­equiv­o­cal — with­out caveat, jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of self-pro­mo­tion.Sim­i­larly, the Sask. Party gov­ern­ment can rightly be crit­i­cized for not mak­ing this apol­ogy far sooner, and in­side the cham­ber dur­ing ses­sion, when it can be on the Hansard record. That said, it can bet­ter be ar­gued that this apol­ogy should have come decades ago un­der pre­vi­ous NDP gov­ern­ments which — while not ini­ti­at­ing the poli­cies — car­ried them out un­der its past regimes.But the real prob­lem may be the un­will­ing­ness of Moe and al­most ev­ery­one else in Saskatchewan to want to get to the heart of what re­ally drove the Six­ties Scoop, and what still drives ar­guably the big­gest so­cial prob­lem in this prov­ince.Crit­i­cal to a suc­cess­ful Moe apol­ogy would have been greater em­pha­sis on show­ing we are sorry by ac­tu­ally do­ing some­thing to change. In­stead, Moe opted to say “noth­ing we can of­fer that will fully re­store what you have lost” and of­fer his “solemn as­sur­ance that gov­ern­ment poli­cies have changed.”Well, the Fed­er­a­tion of Sov­er­eign Indige­nous Na­tions, which didn’t at­tend Mon­day’s apol­ogy cer­e­mony over com­pen­sa­tion is­sues, is ask­ing for a com­plete mora­to­rium on adop­tions and con­trol over First Na­tions chil­dren in the wel­fare sys­tem. The gov­ern­ment has promised changes to the child-wel­fare sys­tem for seven years now.Per­haps the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has le­git­i­mate rea­sons for not want­ing to hand over its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at this very mo­ment. But shouldn’t Moe have said Mon­day that this is a laud­able goal all par­ties should want to work to­ward?Or might we still have pre­vail­ing views of the Six­ties Scoop of half a cen­tury ago that First Na­tions peo­ple sim­ply can’t han­dle their own af­fairs?Mon­day would have been a good time for all of us to take stock of our views that drive sys­temic racism ex­ist­ing in Saskatchewan.Moe’s speech would have been a good op­por­tu­nity to ask each per­son in this prov­ince to look into his or her heart and ask whether their view of First Na­tions peo­ple needs to change.That didn’t hap­pen Mon­day. We were left with an apol­ogy that fell a bit short.

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