“A catastrophic error”: Pope Francis made historic apology on Monday For the Native American people of CanadaDecades of “apologizing for evil”. Residential Schools for Tribals. “I am depressed. I apologize,” the pope said in Masquays, Alberta, in western Canada. Noting that the “wounds are still open,” he acknowledged the responsibility of some members of the Church in the organization, “where children were subjected to physical and verbal, psychological and spiritual abuse.”
The Sovereign Pontiff’s words have been awaited for years by these First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, who today represent 5% of the Canadian population. They were welcomed with loud applause.
During this first address, Pope Francis asked for “forgiveness” three times with “humility and clarity” after praying at the Moskvazis cemetery, on the site of the former Erminsk boarding school, in front of many survivors and members of indigenous communities. Moved. “Assimilationist policies have ended in the systematic marginalization of indigenous peoples,” he lamented, adding that “many Christians (who) have supported the colonial mentality of the powers that be” are “repressed”.
The painful episode of “residential schools” for Aboriginal children caused at least 6,000 deaths between the end of the 19th century and the 1990s and created trauma for generations. The Canadian government, which has paid billions of dollars in compensation to former students, officially apologized 14 years ago for establishing these schools to “kill the Indian in the heart of the child”. The Anglican Church did the same. But the Catholic Church has long denied responsibility for more than 60% of these boarding schools.
Under light rain and under contemplative conditions, about 2,000 people gathered near Canada’s largest ermine boarding school. Others, the orange t-shirt emblem of the tribe. “It’s an exceptional day, a historic day,” Vernon Saddleback, chief of the Samson Cree Nation, responded during a press conference, saying he was “grateful.”
These pardons are “a first step” but “there’s still a lot of work to do,” replied George Arcand Jr., treaty no. 6.
“What we experienced was a great pain. “It’s a time to forgive and work together with the Catholic Church for the future of the community,” Andre Carrier of the Manitoba Métis Federation told AFP, a hat on his head and a medal around his neck.
Later in the afternoon, the Pope visited Edmonton’s First Peoples Sacred Heart Church as a “friend”, urging “reconciliation”. “No one can erase violated dignity, suffering, betrayal. And even the shame that has been inflicted on us believers should never be wiped away,” he assured.
At the end of the day, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was in Maskwacis on Monday, emphasized reconciliation as “the business of all Canadians.” “Nobody should forget what happened in the residential schools and we all need to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he added, calling on all citizens to “show openness, listen and share.”
In April, the Pope apologized for the first time to the Vatican for the Church’s role in 130 boarding schools where some 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly recruited, their families, their language and their culture and often victims. Physical, psychological and sexual violence.
Canada is slowly opening its eyes to this past, now called “cultural genocide”: the discovery of more than 1,300 anonymous graves in 2021 near these boarding schools created a shock wave.
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