Manitoba's Indigenous reconciliation and northern relations Minister is releasing a statement, apologizing for his false residential school comments.

Minister Dr. Alan Lagamodiere began his appointment Thursday by responding to a residential school question, saying the system was designed to take Indigenous children and "give them the skills and abilities they would need to fit into society." He was immediately corrected by Manitoba's NPD Leader, Wab Kinew, who is an Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. In a now-deleted tweet, the Manitoba PC Caucus called Kinew a bully. The account has since retweeted Lagamodiere's latest statement.

Manitoba PC Caucus(Manitoba PC Caucus/Twitter)

"I want to acknowledge the words I used to respond to a question about residential schools, during my first scrum as a new minister in this very important portfolio, were wrong, and I genuinely and sincerely ask for your forgiveness," Lagamodiere says in a Friday-evening statement. "I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous Manitobans, and Canadians whom I have offended greatly with my remarks yesterday."

Lagamodiere says as the newly-appointed minister of Indigenous reconciliation and northern relations, he will be meeting with Indigenous leadership, Elders, Knowledge Keepers and community members. The Minister says he takes his new responsibilities seriously.

"I am reaching out to Indigenous leaders to begin this important dialogue and to chart a path forward together to advance the very important work ahead of us. I hope we can work together in the spirit of friendship and co-operation to advance reconciliation and create a safer, healthier and more prosperous future for all Manitobans."

Lagamodiere released a statement minutes after making the conference comments, but at the time did not apologize and said he misspoke. 


Future Indigenous relations

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is looking to meet with Lagimodiere.

"The NCTR would like to extend an invitation to the new Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Dr. Alan Lagimodiere to visit the Centre and sit in a circle with Survivors and Elders to learn the true history of residential schools in Manitoba and across the land," they say in a statement.

Lagamodiere is Metis. Manitoba Metis Federation President David Chartrand said Thursday that he was disappointed, disturbed, and insulted that Lagamodiere could make those comments about residential schools. Chartrand is a Survivor.

"It is very disappointing for me to see one of my Metis citizens really bow down to somebody else's (way of) how they see the world. That is completely opposite of what we see, and for Lagimodiere to give up on his people, abandon his people, sit silent all these years hoping he is going to be appointed to minister, shutting down his principles, and definitely shutting down his nation," Chartrand said at the time, sharing that he was not confident Lagamodiere will make a difference for Metis people and wanting to meet right away with him.


For Residential School Survivors in need of support, the Residential School crisis line is 1-866-925-4419.