Manitoba's premier says he is sorry for the misunderstanding and hurt after comments he made regarding Canada's settlers were met with anger.
Premier Brian Pallister said, and stood by, his comments saying people came to Canada to "build better."
"The people who came here to this country, before it was a country and since, didn't come here to destroy anything. They came here to build. They came to build better," Pallister said on July 7 in a prepared response to the topping of the Queen Victoria statue on the Legislative grounds on Canada Day.
Two days later, Eilleen Clark resigned as Indigenous Minister. Many people disagreed with this statement, but Pallister continued to defend them. Dr. Alan Lagamodiere was later assigned to the post of Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister. Minutes after receiving this position, the minister defended residential schools, including saying they were designed to give Indigenous children new skills. The minister quickly released a statement saying he "misspoke" and later a second statement came later with an apology. Premier Brian Pallister had not made a public appearance since then.
Weeks later, on Tuesday morning, the Premier joined Dr. Brent Roussin for a press conference on health orders where he was asked about the silence. Pallister says he feels awful about the misinterpretations and misrepresentations that have been made about his own comments, saying he was talking about people such as the Metis and Chief Peguis.
"I was trying to bring people together. I reflected on that. I saw the reactions and I understood that I was misunderstood. And I apologize for that. I should have been clearer in the comments but my heart was in the right place," Pallister says, saying he would soon share his statement of apology, asking for forgiveness and understanding.
The statement released two hours later said the message's purpose was "building up together, on the principles of reconciliation." Pallister says he wishes he worded his message differently to better convey what he was trying to say.
"I hoped to bring us together by referring respectfully to all – not some, as has been misstated – of our ancestors. My words were misunderstood and caused hurt. I am sorry for that."