The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is joining a growing list, calling on the Pope to apologize on behalf of the Catholic Church for its contribution to residential schools.
A majority of the state-funded, institutions were operated by Roman Catholic missionary’s, intended to assimilate First Nations children.
Yet Sunday, the Pope said it was a sad affair upon learning of the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the residential school in Kamloops. While not offering an apology, he expressed his closeness with Canadian Bishops for the Canadian people traumatized by the news.
“This was genocide, and it should be acknowledged as such by the perpetrators, the Church, the Government, and the RCMP,” said FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron. “Survivors and their families deserve an apology for the wrongs committed against them during decades of abuse at federally and church-run residential schools.”
On Friday, the Prime Minister said the Catholic Church should “step up” and take responsibility for its part in residential schools. Justin Trudeau explained that in 2017 he personally asked the Pope for an apology and said he is deeply disappointed in the position of the Church.
Canadian Cardinal Thomas Collins said Trudeau’s remarks were unhelpful and not factual. He noted that Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, apologized to a delegation from the Assembly of First Nations, calling the abuse suffered by children as deplorable.
He explained that the Church has been actively working towards reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
During a service Sunday, the Pontiff asked those in attendance to pray for Canadian Indigenous communities overcome by sorrow.
“These institutions must also preserve and release all residential school records, so that true reconciliation and healing can begin and the United Nations can conduct an investigation. Litigation against the release of these records contradicts Canada’s claim that their most important relationship is with the First Peoples of these lands. Anything short of this is continued injustice against First Nations people,” Cameron said.