Pope asks for pardon for ‘pathetic’ offenses against indigenous Canadians

“I ask God’s forgiveness” and “I join my brethren bishop of Canada in apologizing to you”, the Pope said in an audience at the Vatican with representatives from Métis, Inuit and First Nations. Pope Benedict XVI has apologized for what happened at a boarding school founded by Canada in the late 19th century dedicated to indigenous peoples and which operated until 1997. However, in recent months, hundreds of graves of unnamed children have been discovered. beside the boarding school buildings run by the Catholic and Anglican churches relive the tragedy of the Canadian Natives and their demands for justice.

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Between the late 19th century and the 1980s, some 150,000 indigenous children were forcibly taken to more than 130 boarding schools across the country, where they were alienated from their families, language and culture. Thousands of them never returned home – authorities put the number between 4,000 and 6,000. In 2015, the national commission of inquiry called such a system “cultural genocide”. On Monday, Pope Francis heard the testimony of two indigenous delegates from Canada, in a meeting that was presented as “historic”, to remember the drama of the country’s Church-run boarding school.

“The Pope listened to us. He heard three stories of the many we have to tell” and “nod his head as our survivors tell their stories”, Cassidy Caron, president of the Métis National Council, told the press on Monday at the conclusion of the meeting. “I felt a certain sadness in his reaction (…) The only words he spoke in English were: ‘truth, justice, reparation’. I see it as a personal commitment”, added the Métis representative. “We hope that the Pope’s response, on Friday, in his general audience, will show that he acknowledges what we shared today” and that “this will lead to an apology when he goes to Canada”, he stressed at the time.

Clara Burton

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