'He's committed to making issues worse’: Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien faces backlash for comments on residential schools

·2 min read

Former Canadian prime minister, Jean Chrétien, is facing backlash after claiming that he was not aware of the abuse at residential schools when he was Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development from 1968 to 1974.

In an interview with the French program Tout le monde en parle, Chrétien said he was not made aware of the horrors of residential schools when he was minister. 

When asked if he takes any responsibility for the residential school system in Canada, in a CTV News interview with Evan Solomon that aired on Sunday, Chrétien said "they were there since a long time."

"We had to manage the problem at that time," he said. "We were not informed of any abuse at that time."

On Monday, NDP MP Charlie Angus responded to Chrétien's comments, calling it "outrageous" that the former prime minister is trying to "white wash" his role, citing a letter from a teacher, written to Chrétien in 1968, telling him about the crimes being committed at St. Anne’s Indian Residential School.

"Imagine if he had read that letter and thought, I should do something," Angus said. "People reached out to him and they begged him to do the right thing, and he ignored them."

Other Canadians took to social media to respond to Chrétien claims.

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