A B.C. First Nation is demanding Pope Francis visit Canada to see first hand the lingering aftermath of the residential school system.
Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dolleen Logan wants the pontiff to visit the sites of residential schools in B.C. and Saskatchewan, where the remains of hundreds of children in unmarked graves have been discovered.
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“He can come visit the crime scenes of the unmarked gravesites at residential schools in B.C. and Saskatchewan,” Logan said. “He can meet the families of the children who were killed, traumatized while in care of the Catholic Church.
“He can apologize directly to the families. He can offer financial support for the many ongoing investigations at residential schools. He can finally take responsibility for his church’s actions against our children.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report into the residential school system released in 2015 called for the Pope to come to Canada to apologize to survivors as well as their families and communities for the abuses faced by Indigenous children.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said last week that a delegation from Canada will visit the Vatican in December to press for a papal apology for the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools, where around 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were sent.
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“The Anglican Church has apologized. The Presbyterian Church has apologized. United Church has apologized,” he said.
“This is really part of truth and part of the healing and reconciliation process for survivors to hear the apology from the highest position within the Roman Catholic Church, which is the Pope.”
— With files from The Canadian Press
The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their relatives suffering with trauma invoked by the recall of past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.
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