The new Indigenous minister in Manitoba asserts that the residential school system 'believed they were doing the right thing.'
Manitoba's NDP leader confronts the minister over remarks made during a press conference.
Minutes after being sworn in, Manitoba's new minister of Indigenous reconciliation and northern relations was confronted directly in the legislature building over his statement that those who ran residential schools "believed they were doing the right thing."
Alan Lagimodiere told reporters that his understanding of the residential school system was that it was intended to equip Indigenous children with the skills necessary to integrate into society.
Lagimodiere was then cut off by Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew, who stated that he could not accept Lagimodiere's comments, which appeared to defend residential schools.
"The stated purpose of residential schools was to exterminate the Indian within the child," Kinew stated.
"To say that was incorrect is not cultural relativism or revisionist history."
Lagimodiere, who is Métis, was responding to questions about Agassiz MLA Eileen Clarke's resignation as minister of Indigenous and northern relations in light of Premier Brian Pallister's comments implying that Canada's colonization was done with good intentions.
Kinew continued, "If Lagimodiere wishes to work with Indigenous communities, he cannot defend residential schools."
"We are all aware that was incorrect," Kinew stated.
Reporters then pressed Lagimodiere on the purpose of residential schools, to which he responded, "to assimilate Indigenous people into non-Indigenous culture."
The minister has since apologized for his remarks, stating that he misspoke: