Squaring the circle game: a critical look at Canada’s 2008 apology to former students of Indian residential schools




Radmacher, Michael Boldt

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On 11 June 2008 the Government of Canada delivered an official apology to former students of Indian residential schools for its participation in the schools’ creation and administration. The morally infused discourses of political apologies may at first seem to symbolize a progressive step towards a better and more egalitarian future. This thesis, however, will challenge and problematize such perspectives by presenting not only a critical analysis of the 2008 apology itself but also by contextualizing the apology’s narratives with the colonial framing strategies which have historically served to marginalize and dominate the Indigenous nations and peoples of Turtle Island. Through the critical exploration of the 2008 apology’s operability and political significance in Canada’s colonial context, this thesis intends to reveal both the message(s) that the apology got across to the Canadian general public and the forms of domination and political distraction that the apology’s seemingly moral and progressive narratives effectively belie.



apology, Residential Schools, Canada, reconciliation, political apology, reparation, reparations, Harper, Indian, aboriginal, colonization, assimilation, Off-reservation boarding schools