Prime Minister Stephen Harper publicly apologized Wednesday to native Canadians who were taken from their families and forced to attend state-funded schools aimed at assimilating them. Harper said the treatment of children at the schools is a sad chapter in Canadian history. "We are sorry," Harper said in Parliament. From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 aboriginal children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society. Many suffered physical and sexual abuse. "The government now recognizes that the consequences of the Indian residential schools policy were profoundly negative and that this policy has had a lasting impact," Harper said.