WelCom August 2022
Pope Francis has apologised to Canada’s native people on their land for the Church’s role in schools where indigenous children were abused, branding forced cultural assimilation a ‘deplorable evil’ and ‘disastrous error’.
The Pope made the penitential pilgrimage to Canada in July, to fulfil a promise he made to indigenous delegations that visited him earlier this year at the Vatican, where he made the initial apology.
Speaking near the site of two former schools in Maskwacis, in Alberta, Pope Francis went even further, apologising for Christian support of the overall ‘colonising mentality’ of the times and calling for a ‘serious investigation of the schools to assist survivors and descendants in healing’.
Indigenous leaders wearing eagle-feather war head-dresses greeted the Pope as a fellow chief and welcomed him with chanting, drum beating, dancing and war songs.
‘I am here because the first step of my penitential pilgrimage among you is that of again asking forgiveness, of telling you once more that I am deeply sorry,’ he said.
He was addressing the indigenous groups in the Bear Park Pow-Wow Grounds, part of the ancestral territory of the Cree, Dene, Blackfoot, Saulteaux and Nakota Sioux people.
‘Sorry for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonising mentality of the powers that oppressed the indigenous peoples. I am sorry,’ he said during the meeting with First Nations, Metis and Inuit people.
‘In the face of this deplorable evil, the Church kneels before God and implores his forgiveness for the sins of her children.’
The Canadian government now estimates at least 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Métis children were taken from their families and communities and forced to attend the schools between 1870 and 1997. At least 4,120 children died at the schools, and several thousand others vanished without a trace.
Sources: Vatican News, Reuters