'Sincerest apologies': Manitoba's Indigenous relations minister says his residential school comments were wrong
Manitoba's new minister of Indigenous relations has apologized for his comments over residential schools, but now more voices from within the Pallister government are weighing in on the recent controversies.
It's been a week since Eileen Clarke resigned as Manitoba's Indigenous and northern affairs minister in part because of controversial comments made by Premier Pallister about Manitoba’s ancestral history.
Minutes after her replacement, Alan Lagimodiere, was sworn in Thursday, telling media he believed the architects of residential schools thought they were doing the right thing, and that the schools were meant to teach children skills.
These comments prompted immediate backlash from Manitoba's opposition leader Wab Kinew, along with a number of Indigenous leaders in the province.
Now, Manitoba's Families Minister Rochelle Squires has released a statement saying she wants to live in a country brave enough to accept the awful truth of what happened.
“Therefore I am deeply troubled by recent events and comments. I am taking time to reflect, to listen to the dialogue, and come to better understand my own responsibilities towards reconciliation," Squires said in a statement.
While Lagimodiere released a statement Thursday saying he misspoke, the new Indigenous relations minister issued an official apology on Friday.
"I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous Manitobans, and Canadians whom I have offended greatly with my remarks yesterday," Lagimodiere said in the statement.
"I want to acknowledge the words I used to respond to a question about residential schools, during my first scrum as a new minister in this very important portfolio, were wrong, and I genuinely and sincerely ask for your forgiveness."
The apology was backed by fellow Cabinet member, Audrey Gordon – the minister of mental health, wellness and recovery.
“I stand behind Minister Lagimodiere in terms of his comments and his statement that what he said was not what he intended to convey," Gordon said.
Leaders outside of the legislature are condemning the remarks, and it has some – including Winnipeg's mayor – wondering whether Lagimodiere will be able to continue on as minister.
"Time will tell but yesterday certainly wasn’t a good day in our efforts to move reconciliation forward," Mayor Brian Bowman said.
A since-deleted statement released on Twitter by the PC Caucus following the confrontation between Kinew and Lagimodiere accused the opposition leader of political showmanship and bullying.
CTV News requested a comment from the PC Caucus as to why the statement was deleted, but has not heard back.