The pope’s apology in Canada was historic, but for some Indigenous people, not enough

by | Jul 25, 2022 | Top Stories

Enlarge this image

Pope Francis delivers remarks as he meets Indigenous communities — including First Nations, Metis and Inuit — at Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Catholic Church in Maskwacis, near Edmonton, Canada, on Monday.

Gregorio Borgia/AP

hide caption

toggle caption

Gregorio Borgia/AP

Years after a Canadian-government-funded commission issued findings detailing a history of physical and sexual abuse of Indigenous children in the country’s Catholic-run residential schools, Pope Francis on Monday issued an apology on Canadian soil. “I am sorry,” the pope said, speaking in Maskwacis, Alberta, at the lands of four Cree nations. “I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,” Francis said near the site of the former Ermineskin Indian Residential School, where ground-penetrating radar has been used to try to locate unmarked graves of students who died while attending the school. Thousands of children died at the schools, but the true number may never be known

Enlarge this image

Pope Francis visits the Ermineskin Cree Nation Cemetery in Maskwacis, south of Edmonton, western Canada, on Monday.

Vincenzo Pinto /AFP via Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Vincenzo Pinto /AFP via Getty Images

The residential schools forcibly separated Indigenous children from their parents as part of an effort to convert them to Christianity and assimilate them into the wider Canadian culture. In total, 150,000 children from Canada’s First Nations tribes were placed in 139 schools run under government contract — most by the Catholic Church — over a 150-year period. A 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report prompted by the harrowing tales of survivors concluded that “[children] were abused, physically and sexually, and they died in the schools in numbers that would not have been tolerated in any school system anywhere in the country.”

The schools were designed “not to educate” the Indigenous children, “but primarily to break their link to their culture and identity,” the report said. It concluded that the establishment and operation of the schools “can best be described as ‘cultural genocide.'” Officially, 4,120 children died while in the care of the schools, mostly from diseases such as tuberculosis that ran rampant, according to government statistics. But estimates range considerably higher. The commission, in its report, acknowledged that the true number “is not likely ever to be known in full.” Last year, the unmarked graves of 215 children were found on land once occupied by the Kamloops Indian Residential School. At one time, it was the largest residential school in Canada with 500 students enrolled in the 1950s. The pope’s apology is historic, but there is still frustration with the church

Enlarge this image

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This