The Canadian Catholic Church has issued a formal apology to indigenous peoples following the discovery in recent months of more than 1,000 graves near a former boarding school, although activists are still waiting for memes from Pope Francis, which are seen as vital to the reconciliation process.
“We, the Catholic Bishops of Canada, express our deep regret and offer our firm apologies,” reads the note published on Friday (24). The bishops also acknowledged “the suffering experienced in boarding schools” and “serious abuses committed by some members” of the Catholic community.
“Many religious communities and Catholic dioceses have served in this system which has led to the suppression of indigenous language, culture and spirituality, without respect for the rich history, traditions and wisdom of indigenous peoples,” they admit.
The statement also acknowledged the “historical and current trauma, and legacy of suffering and challenges that continue to this day for indigenous peoples”.
This summer more than a thousand unmarked graves were discovered near a former Catholic boarding school for Indigenous children, shedding light on an obscure page in Canadian history and the First Nations’ policies of forced assimilation.
About 150,000 mystical and Inuth children are recruited from 139 boarding schools across the country, alienating them from their families, languages and cultures.
Many were subjected to sexual harassment and abuse, and more than 4,000 died, according to an investigative commission that described the practice as true “cultural genocide”.
In recent months, the gruesome discovery has caused outrage and rebellion in the country.
Symbolically, the Canadian flag at the Peace Tower in Ottawa is flown at half-mast in honor of indigenous children, following the discovery of the remains of 215 children in Kamloops, British Columbia (west) in late May.
– Maintenance and reconciliation –
The July 1 national celebrations were marked by rallies across Canada, which brought thousands of people to the streets, most wearing orange T-shirts, a color associated with homage to ancient indigenous peoples.
At the same time, several churches were burned or destroyed.
As a gesture of reassurance, Ottawa appointed an Inut woman as governor-general of Canada – the first indigenous woman to serve as Queen Elizabeth II’s deputy.
However, many indigenous groups expect another symbolic gesture, this time from the pope, to whom they have repeatedly apologized in person in Canada. Pope Francis will receive an indigenous delegation in December.
“We want an apology,” said Rosanne Casimir, head of First Nation Tk’emlups te Secwpemc in early June, after announcing the discovery of Kamloops’ tomb.
“To be stronger comes from the head of the Catholic Church, and from our point of view, I think they owe it to the natives,” said David Chartrand, vice president and spokesman for the Mets National Assembly, earlier in July. .
According to this indigenous leader, apologies are fundamental to starting the healing and reconciliation process, but will only be truly effective if they are delivered by Pope Francis on Canadian soil and particularly in the western part of the country, where most indigenous peoples reside. school is located.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has made reconciliation with indigenous peoples one of his priorities, lamented the refusal of the Pope and the Catholic Church to acknowledge their “responsibility” and “part of the blame” for running boarding schools.
The apology comes less than a week before the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation for missing children and boarding school survivors, scheduled for September 30.
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