Premier Andrew Furey is due to apologize to residential school survivors in Cartwright on Friday, according to the NunatuKavut community council. (Mike Simms/CBC)
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey will apologize to residential school survivors in Cartwright on Friday, according to a Facebook post by the NunatuKavut community council.
The long-awaited provincial apology, which was promised in 2017 by Premier Dwight Ball, is scheduled to happen Friday, the day before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized on behalf of the federal government to residential school survivors in the province on Nov. 24, 2017, in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
"The treatment of Indigenous children in residential schools is a dark and shameful chapter in our country's history," Trudeau said at the time. "For all of you, we are sincerely sorry."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes residential survivor Toby Obed to the stage after delivering an apology in September 2017 on behalf of the government of Canada to former students of Newfoundland and Labrador residential schools. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)
In 2017, Ball promised the provincial government would issue its own apology to those who had attended the schools in Labrador and St. Anthony, on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula, but he stepped down in 2020 without having fulfilled that commitment.
In 2016, about 1,000 school survivors reached a $50-million settlement with Ottawa after a class-action lawsuit, but the students were left out of an federal apology to residential school attendees issued by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008.
Harper didn't apologize to residential school survivors in Newfoundland and Labrador because boarding schools in the province were set up before Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949 and were not run by the federal government.
'Today is the result of the righteousness of our struggle,' said Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine after the apology. Fontaine is pictured here in June 2008 being presented with a citation by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the House of Commons. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)
Between 1949 and 1979, thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their communities to attend five residential schools that were run by the International Grenfell Association or the Moravian church. Many students said they were sexually and physically abused, and suffered language and cultural losses.
The NunatuKavut community council represents about 6,000 Inuit in central and southern Labrador, but Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national representative organization for Canada's Inuit, disputes NunatuKavut's claims of Inuit identity.
It is unclear if the premier will also apologize to Innu Nation or Nunatsiavut members who attended residential schools.
The Innu Nation would not accept Trudeau's apology in 2017 because they said they believe the apology was too narrow and that Innu people have also suffered in other institutions, orphanages and the province's child protection system.
The Lockwood School, which operated from 1949 to 1964, sits abandoned in Cartwright, Labrador. (Bailey White/CBC)
CBC News has asked the NunatuKavut community council, the Nunatsiavut government, the Innu Nation, the premier's office and the Office of Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation for comment.
Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe told CBC News on Wednesday he's disappointed by the premier's decision.
Lampe said the apology to an "unrecognized Indigenous group" precedes any apology to Labrador Inuit residential school survivors and their families.
"An apology to an unrecognized Indigenous group in advance of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is an insult to survivors and to Labrador Inuit," Lampe said.
Lampe is also calling for Furey to fire Lisa Dempster, minister of Indigenous affairs and reconciliation.
In a press release issued shortly before speaking with CBC News, Lampe accused Dempster of a conflict of interest because of her "affiliation with NCC." Dempster, whose district is Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair, is a NunatuKavut member and worked for the community council for 10 years as a career and employment counsellor.
"As long as she remains in her current role, we fear that achieving reconciliation will be challenging, if not impossible," Lampe said.
"She should be removed as minister before more harm is inflicted on the true Indigenous peoples of our province."
The NunatuKavut community council released its own statement in response to Lampe Wednesday evening.
"Once again, this release by Nunatsiavut President Lampe is filled with lies, innuendo, lateral violence and hurtful statements. At the end of the day, the position of President Lampe has nothing to do with identity but everything to do with greed," the statement reads.
"As before, they are playing politics with the lives of NunatuKavut Inuit. Leadership within the Nunatsiavut government have chosen to dehumanize our people and the genuine suffering and historical injustices they endured in the residential school system. This is a stark reminder of how politics have no place in times like these."