Grollier residents disappointed
Former residents call premier's message 'weak-kneed'

by Ian Elliot
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Mar 13/98) - The spokesperson for a group representing former residents of Grollier Hall is disappointed with the GNWT's statement last week on residential schools and the sexual and physical abuses that took place in them.

Calling Premier Don Morin's speech "pretty weak-kneed" and saying Morin sounded like he had been under pressure from other GNWT departments to water down the message, Lawrence Norbert, a former resident of Grollier Hall and spokesman for the Grollier Hall Planning Circle, said the survivor's group would continue pressing the government for assistance and compensation.

While Morin said the government did "deeply regret" the system that ran from 1876 to the mid-1980s when small communities began getting high school grades, he did not apologize for it, or make a financial commitment to helping former residents, among whom drug and alcohol abuse and suicide are at a level many times higher than that of the general population.

"The most disappointing thing was that there were no funds identified in the statement for the victims," Norbert said last week.

"I'm sure if it were a study on medevacs or corrections, the government would be able to find $800,000 for the two of them, but this is just an issue of healing survivors of residential schools."

Norbert also said he was disappointed that the government did not set aside a person or two to work with the survivors.

However, he did say that he though it positive that the government has come on side with the Catholic Church and the federal government in acknowledging the abuse that took place in the schools and said the victim's group may present a proposal to the GNWT seeking more action.

"It now breaks the silence on behalf of the GNWT, that they have come out and made the statement that they acknowledge the issue."