Canada’s indigenous people have ‘accepted’ an apology from Pope Francis for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential schools the Government of Canada created to assimilate the indigenous population and said on Friday it was a “good faith gesture”.
At a press conference in Rome, representatives of the three Canadian indigenous groups who met Pope Francis at the Vatican this week expressed their satisfaction with the apology.
Canadian Aborigines are divided into Inuit (indigenous people of the Canadian Arctic), Métis (or mestizos, the result of mixing between indigenous peoples and French settlers) and the so-called First Nations, the largest group with more than a million members.
Gerald Antoine, Chief of the Dene, one of Canada’s First Nations groups, called April 1 a “historic” day, adding that Indigenous Canadians “accept this apology as a gesture of good faith that acknowledges” that the Pope François will travel to Canada at the end of July to “formally apologize” to all Indigenous peoples.
Antoine explained that “today is a very special day” because “at last” the Canadian natives “will be able to put a stop to a certain extent” although “more work” will be necessary.
On behalf of the Inuit, Natan Obed said “today’s apology is long overdue” while Cassidy Caron of the Métis said “in today’s statement from Pope Francis” he can be verified that the natives have been heard by the Catholic leader.
But perhaps the most moving statement came from old Angie Crear, who said the meeting with the pope was something “he will never forget” and that Francis promised “not to forget”. the thousands of aboriginal children who disappeared from Canadian residential schools. .
For his part, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, “thanked” the pardon offered this Friday by Pope Francis to the Canadian indigenous peoples for the treatment they received in the boarding schools established by Canada to assimilate the indigenous population and that, in many cases were run by Catholic religious orders.
Trudeau, who has apologized in the past for the Canadian government’s role in establishing the residential school system in which tens of thousands of Indigenous children suffered systematic physical, psychological and sexual abuse, also said that he hopes Pope Francis will apologize to residential school survivors when I travel to Canada.
Canada’s prime minister said in a statement that “a made-in-Canada apology from the Pope to survivors of school residences and their families will specifically address” one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which in 2015 investigated it happened in school residences.
“Today’s apology is a step forward in acknowledging the truth” about Canada’s past, Trudeau said.
Although the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report in 2015, the vast majority of its 94 recommendations have not been implemented by the Canadian government.
And although Trudeau came to power in 2015 with a political platform that emphasized reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians, the prime minister has been criticized for his inaction.
Last year, following the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves believed to contain the remains of thousands of children who disappeared from government boarding schools, Trudeau ignored requests from Indians to visit one of the school’s dormitories during of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
It was only after going public that Trudeau had refused the visit to go on vacation with his family that the Canadian prime minister agreed to visit the territory of the tk’emlúps te secwe’pemc Indians to apologize.