Alan Lagimodiere, The New Manitoba Indigenous Minister, Confronted During The Conference


On his first day as Manitoba’s new indigenous minister, Alan Lagimodiere caused some controversy by saying that those who once ran residential schools thought they were ‘doing the right thing.’

He said:

“At the time I think the intent … they thought they were doing the right thing. In retrospect, it’s easy to judge in the past. But at the time, they really thought that they were doing the right thing. From my knowledge of it, the residential school system was designed to take Indigenous children and give them the skills and abilities they would need to fit into society as it moved forward.”

Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew interrupted Lagimodiere, saying that he can’t accept his comments. Kinew stated:

“It was the expressed intent of residential schools to kill the Indian in the child. It is not cultural relativism, it is not revisionist history, for us to say that that was wrong.”

Lagimodiere is Métis and he tried to respond to questions about the resignation of Eileen Clarke as minister of Indigenous and northern relations. Clarke’s resignation happened after Premier Brian Pallister said that the colonization of Canada was done with good intentions.

Lagimodiere later said that he misspoke and that he tried to explain that the intention of residential schools was “to assimilate Indigenous people into the non-Indigenous culture.”

He added:

“They didn’t allow them to practise any of their cultural beliefs when they were in the Indigenous schools, which we must recognize that that happened and do what we can to bring that culture back and to teach that in our schools today.”

He later wrote on Twitter:

“That was wrong then, and it is wrong now.”


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