Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I'm sorry too
The official wording of the apology given by Australian Federal Parliament today to the stolen generations of Australian Indigenous Peoples:
"Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
We reflect on their past mistreatment.
We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.
The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.
We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.
We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.
For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.
We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.
For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.
We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.
A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.
A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.
A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.
A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia."
I for one lend my support to all of the above words. A national sorry movement has been going for over ten years now. I remember signing the national sorry book when I was a student at university. Some may claim that as they had nothing to do with the past grievances that they have nothing to apologise for. There is no grace in this attitude. These are grievances between races and nations. For healing to happen, our current generation must apologise for the "sins of our fathers". Otherwise we perpetuate the same grievances in the present day.
I am sorry Indigenous Australia for all the pain, we as white settlers have caused you over the last two centuries. I am also especially sorry for the pain we caused you in taking away your children during the stolen generations.
In the spirit of reconciliation, I humbly ask that Indigenous Australia forgive White Australia for our sins. Let us move forward as One Country together while at the same time respecting each others cultural diversity and languages.
For those Canadians, Europeans and Americans who do not understand this issue you can watch a movie called "Rabbit Proof Fence." Please do not judge us. All nations have sins that require repentance.
God Bless all Australians, and may we one day truly be known as the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit.