Prime Minister Trudeau will Render Apology to Student Survivors of Newfoundland Residential Schools

Some form of relief is going to come to the survivors of Newfoundland residential schools later this year. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to apologize to the former students of Newfoundland and Labrador residential schools sometime in September. He will be traveling to Labrador for the apology though the exact dates are yet to be released.

The move is an attempt to put things on the right course after the Stephen Harper government excluded schools of the Atlantic province from an apology and compensation package back in 2008. The lawyers representing the 800 student survivors pressed that Ottawa should pay the same duty of care after Labrador and Newfoundland became a part of the Canadian Confederation in 1949.

The residential schools of the area had been a place where Aboriginal students were put in an attempt to rob their native identity. Children as young as five years old were repeatedly harassed and abused even for speaking their own language. Cindy Dwyer who was a student of North West River reveals that she faced physical, psychological and sexual abuse during her schooling there. She was made to feel just like another child without a self-identity which hampered the development of self-worth, self-value and self-esteem in her. She feels that the apology from Trudeau is going to ease the pain experienced by her.

Another survivor Toby Obed said that the apology will help to provide some peace to the tortured child inside him. It eases the pain of being left out of the 2008 apology and will help in his healing. The current apology also validates the suffering of the students of Newfoundland and Labrador for the first time. But not all the survivors are ready to want Trudeau’s apology. Steven Cooper, lawyer of many student survivors said that some feel that the apology comes as a forced move and is not going to change anything. Though Cooper revealed that it had value for the majority of the former students and the apology was more meaningful than any financial settlement.

The Liberal government under Trudeau has decided to offer a $50 million compensation package that goes to settle claims like sexual and physical abuse and loss of culture and language. For the 100 years that the schooling system existed, many students even died and were put in unmarked graves. The abuse and isolation inflicted on the students are the cause of a generation wide trauma and suffering of the native communities even in this age. The apology is not the final step in the process of justice but is a step towards the right direction. The settlement from the government saw an end to a ten-year long legal struggle.

The Race for St. John’s Mayoral Seat gets More Competitive with Entry of New Candidates

The competition for St. John’s mayor seat is getting hotter with Andy Wells already announcing that he is running the win back his seat. He has already acted as the mayor in 1997 for the first time then again got the seat in 2001 and 2005. There is also Danny Breen, councilor for Ward 1 who made his intentions clear about running for Mayor. Recently Renee Sharpe also announced that she will be in the list of candidates for the post of Mayor.

Andy Wells made his announcement over coffee at Tim Hortons at Churchill Square where many friends turned up. Wells even paid for everyone’s coffee and made several promises in front of the media in his announcement speech.

The first thing he wants to do is bring down the levels of the municipal taxes and they have reached sky high levels. He will go for the biggest tax cut in the history of St. John’s and plans to bring down the tax levels to rates of 2015.

Another consideration will be reconsidering the borders of the city in a bid to improve an efficiency of services. Wells also made a controversial promise to freeze the salaries at city hall for four years starting from 2017. But he was quick to take a different position when it was brought up that the unionized workers were on negotiated contracts.

There have been some allegations against Wells for inappropriate conduct while he was the chairman of Public Utilities Board. His corrosive style of leadership was met with a defamation lawsuit in 2004 by Art Puddister and cost him $7,500.

Breen, on the other hand, revealed that the council had already adjusted the taxes in the 2017 budget and he is also unfazed by Well’s announcement of running for mayor. He said that the city has improved on its spending and a “culture of efficiency” is one of his foremost priorities. He also stressed the importance of other issues like governance, dealing with climate change and ways of operation. The coming election is going to be a really important one in Breen’s opinion as St. John’s had only two mayors in the last 2o to 25 years.

Renee Sharpe, businesswoman, community worker, and advocate of women’s self-defense revealed her intentions to run for the mayor speaking in St. John’s Morning Show. She said that she loved when women competed for council seats and want to be the person to bring positive change.

She will promote the equality of men and women workers, increase support for small businesses, and improve the services for Indigenous population and people with mental illness.

It remains to be seen who ultimately gets to be the mayor of St John’s.