Apology fails to address bigger race question
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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