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N.L. government, Inuit leaders agree to delay residential schools apology due to COVID-19

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball poses in his office at the Confederation Building in St. John's on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball poses in his office at the Confederation Building in St. John's on Tuesday, February 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Inuit leaders have agreed to suspend the province’s plan to deliver formal apologies to residential school survivors and their descendants.

In a joint news release today, the province and the Nunatsiavut Government said COVID-19 public health measures make it impossible to safely accommodate the anticipated number of people interested in attending the public events.

Premier Dwight Ball had been scheduled to travel to Nunatsiavut in March to deliver the apologies on behalf of the province, and when that event was cancelled, made plans to hold events in July.

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Ball, who will soon be stepping down as premier, said in a statement he regrets not being able to deliver an apology on behalf of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe thanked Ball for making every effort to deliver long-awaited apologies to residential school survivors and their descendants.

Lampe says he hopes the next premier will follow through on the provincial government’s commitment.

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Ball said, “an apology cannot undo the harm and the suffering that residential school students and their families endured, but it is an important step in the healing process for Inuit who were separated at a young age from their families, communities, culture and traditions.”

Lampe said as Ball prepares to leave his job as premier in the coming weeks, “We are hopeful the next premier will follow through on this important commitment so that those impacted by residential schools can somewhat find closure.”