Minister denies connection between Liberal strategy, Hesquiaht apology

Liberal MLA Ida Chong 'disturbed' by NDP efforts to undermine importance of Hesquiaht First Nation apology.

To the Editor,

Re: MLA probes ethnic outreach strategy–Hesquiaht apology link, www.albernivalleynews.com, March 7.

On Nov. 17, 2012, a feast was held in Port Alberni that represented a significant step in healing the relationship between the Hesquiaht First Nation and British Columbia.

Our acknowledgement of the pain of those involved in the tragedy that took place in 1869 was both respectful and sincere.

The desire for reconciliation originated with the community, took place in the community and culminated with the community inviting me to the emotional healing ceremony, at which some 400 Hesquiaht people celebrated our mutual respect.

In my response to this newspaper’s inquiry on March 6, concerning the Hesquiaht acknowledgement, I was clear that my ministry’s approach to respectfully acknowledge the pain of the Hesquiaht Nation began in earnest in 2010.

The development of such reconciliation for a historic wrong requires considerable reflection, analysis and discussion.

I believe every government must be alive to these historic issues, and must be ready to discuss and to pursue thoughtful actions that can demonstrate our attentiveness and our concern.

I am frankly deeply disturbed by the effort to try to undermine the importance and meaning of what for me personally, for my government and – I believe – most of all, for the Hesquiaht Nation, was a profound, sincere and moving experience.

Ida Chong,

Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation