(The Langevin block sits across the street from Parliament Hill and houses the executive branch of government and is the working office of the prime minister. Photo: Mark Blackburn/APTN)
APTN National News
A group of Indigenous MPs want the name of the man credited with being the “architect” of Indian residential schools in Canada stripped from the building holding the Prime Minister’s Office.
The group of federal legislators, which includes two NDP MPs, the Liberal Indigenous caucus and an Independent MP, plan to send a letter to Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote Thursday requesting a name change for the Langevin Block.
The building is named after Hector-Louis Langevin, a Father of Confederation and a cabinet minister in the government of John A. Macdonald who led the creation of Indian residential schools. The building currently houses the Privy Council and the working office of the prime minister. It sits across from Parliament Hill.
“The government has fully embraced the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its condemnation of the residential school system,” said a copy of the letter obtained by APTN signed by Liberal MP Don Rusnak, on behalf of the Liberal Indigenous caucus, NDP MPs Romeo Saganash and Georgina Jolibois, along with Independent MP Hunter Tootoo. “Surely you can see the incongruity of naming a building after the architect of the system.”
The letter includes a quote from Langevin, who was minister of public works when he pushed for the creation of the schools.
“The fact is if you wish to educate children you must separate them from their parents,” said Langevin in 1883 during a speech in the House of Commons promoting the schools. “If you leave them in the family they may know how to read and write, but they will remain savages, whereas by separating them in the way proposed they will acquire the habits and tastes…of civilized people.”
The MPs plan to hold a press conference on the issue Thursday morning.
Earlier this month Calgary’s city council approved a motion to rename the Langevin bridge over the Bow river to Reconciliation bridge.
The move prompted the Calgary Herald to publish what a First Nation professor saw as a sarcastic slap at the move.