Phil Fontaine's shocking testimony of sexual abuse
Don't be fooled by his soft-spoken and conciliatory manner. Phil Fontaine has been a dominant force in native politics since the 1970s. The Manitoba chief who once admitted to being petrified of public speaking was one of the first to speak publicly about residential school abuse. From masterminding the death of Meech Lake to dismantling the Department of Indian Affairs in Manitoba, the tenacious leader of Canada's most powerful native group has orchestrated key deals aimed at improving the quality of life for his people.
Fontaine calls for an inquiry into residential school abuse. He holds nothing back in this explosive interview. Fontaine even hints at how he has gone from being the abused to being the abuser.
• Fontaine went to Oblates of Mary Immaculate residential school at Sagkeeng, then to the Assiniboia residential school in Winnipeg. In general, residential schools were for native children aged five to 16.
• Although the church agreed with Fontaine that an inquiry into residential schools was in order, neither it nor the government ever ordered one. Instead, the government convened a Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in 1991. Many people told the Commission about their residential school experiences, and its 1996 report recommended a separate public inquiry into residential schools. That recommendation was never followed.
• On Jan. 7, 1998, Jane Stewart, Canada's minister of Indian Affairs, made a formal apology to those who were abused at residential schools. The federal government also established a $350 million healing fund for the victims.
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: Oct. 30, 1990
Guest(s): Phil Fontaine
Host: Barbara Frum
Last updated: March 30, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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