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A field test of equivocation theory: Apologies by Canadian churches to indigenous people
Unformatted Document Text:  14 or independent), that is, groups of words with a subject and finite verb. The above excerpt divides into the following clauses: < To those individuals who were physically, sexually and mentally abused as students of the Indian Residential Schools  in which The United Church of Canada was involved, < I offer you our most sincere apology. < You did nothing wrong. < You were and are the victims of evil acts  that cannot under any circumstances be justified or excused. < We pray < that you will hear the sincerity of our words today < and that you will witness the living out of this apology in our actions in the future. Often the sentences followed the common practice of leaving the links to clauses implicit; these were inserted in square brackets, as in the third unit below: < We recognize < that the negative experiences in the Residential Schools cannot be considered in isolation from the root causes of the indignities and injustices < [that were] suffered by aboriginal peoples in our country. (Catholic 1991) The next requirement was to identify the parts of the text that were the apology itself and therefore constrained by the avoidance conflict described above. This meant locating and highlighting all of the sections that described the offences. These excerpts included only direct or indirect references to the harmful actions themselves, as indicated in boldface for the first excerpt in this section: < To those individuals who were physically, sexually and mentally abused as

Authors: Bavelas, Janet.
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14
or independent), that is, groups of words with a subject and finite verb. The above
excerpt divides into the following clauses:
<
To those individuals who were physically, sexually and mentally abused as students
of the Indian Residential Schools

in which The United Church of Canada was involved,
<
I offer you our most sincere apology.
<
You did nothing wrong.
<
You were and are the victims of evil acts

that cannot under any circumstances be justified or excused.
<
We pray
<
that you will hear the sincerity of our words today
<
and that you will witness the living out of this apology in our actions in the future.
Often the sentences followed the common practice of leaving the links to clauses
implicit; these were inserted in square brackets, as in the third unit below:
<
We recognize
<
that the negative experiences in the Residential Schools cannot be considered in
isolation from the root causes of the indignities and injustices
<
[that were] suffered by aboriginal peoples in our country. (Catholic 1991)
The next requirement was to identify the parts of the text that were the apology
itself and therefore constrained by the avoidance conflict described above. This meant
locating and highlighting all of the sections that described the offences. These excerpts
included only direct or indirect references to the harmful actions themselves, as
indicated in boldface for the first excerpt in this section:
<
To those individuals who were physically, sexually and mentally abused as


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