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Apology addresses Canada's "assimilation" of native children

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Last week, the government of Canada formally apologized for forcing 150,000 native children into boarding schools run by churches. Beginning in the 1870s, the children were forced to learn English and adopt Christianity. Physical and sexual abuse were widespread at the schools. Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered the apology from the floor of the House of Commons Wednesday in Ottawa. The apology is a part of a $1.9 billion settlement reached with some of the schools' survivors in 2006. Reaction among native communities was mixed. Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Grand Chief Tim Thompson called it "long overdue." Hilda Nicholas, a Kanesatake Mohawk, told the CBC that Harper sounded sincere in his apology. But Mohawk Kathleen Gambler, who attended one of the schools for 11 years, told the CBC no apology can erase the kind of trauma she experienced. Ottawa Correspondent Lucy Martin asked a cross-section of Canadians for their reactions to the apology, and the legacy that prompted it.

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Lucy Martin
Ottawa Correspondent

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