Indigenous Canadians met with the pope in hopes of apologizing

The meetings, which have been postponed since December due to the epidemic, are part of the Canadian Church and the government’s efforts to respond to Aboriginal demands for justice and compensation – a long-standing demand that gained traction after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves last year. The schools.

Arriving in Rome on Sunday, in an interview with the Associated Press, tribal leaders expressed hope that Francis would indeed apologize, although they said their main goal this week was to tell the pope the story of their people and the torture they suffered.

“Most of our meetings are about voicing the voices of our survivors,” said Cassidy Caron, president of the Metis National Council, who was given a traditional handmade beaded jacket to wear for the first time on Monday morning. To give the red, beaded moccasin to the Pope.

The group explained in a note that “the moccasins were presented as a sign of the will of the Metis people to forgive if there was any meaningful action on the part of the church.” The red dye “represents that although Pope Francis does not wear traditional dress. The red pope’s shoes, he walks with the legacy of those who came before him, are good, great and terrible.”

Francis has set aside a few hours this week to meet in person with a mental health counselor in the room for each session with representatives from First Nations, Metis and Inuit. Delegates then gathered as a group for a more formal audience on Friday, Francis gave a speech.

More than 150,000 Native children were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools from the 19th century to the 1970s in an effort to isolate them from their home and cultural influences, to convert them to Christianity and to assimilate them into mainstream society, which previous governments considered superior.

The Canadian government has acknowledged that students were beaten and physically and sexually abused for speaking their mother tongue. That legacy of abuse and isolation has been cited by tribal leaders as the main reason for the epidemic rate of alcohol and drug addiction over conservation.

About three-quarters of the 130 residential schools were run by Catholic missionary congregations.

Last May, Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Nation announced that about 215 cemeteries had been discovered near Kamloops, British Columbia, using ground-penetrating radar. It was the largest aboriginal boarding school in Canada, and the discovery of the tombs was the first of numerous, similarly terrifying places across the country.

Prior to the discovery of the sites, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada specifically called for an apology from the Pope on Canadian soil for the church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis. Children in Catholic-run residential schools.

Francis has promised to travel to Canada, although no date has been set for the trip.

“Initially, steps need to be taken to reconcile. And we still need very specific steps from the Catholic Church, “said Nathan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapirite Kanatami, who is leading the Inuit delegation. He mentioned the compensation that has been ordered to the Canadian Church, as well as the desire to find out the truth about abuses in schools.

“It’s not just about opening the door to the record, it’s also about the general desire to use church resources to help in any way we can,” he told the AP.

As part of the settlement of a lawsuit involving the government, churches and an estimated 90,000 surviving students, Canada has paid billions of dollars in compensation to the indigenous community.

The Catholic Church, for its part, has paid more than $ 50 million and now wants to add another $ 30 million over the next five years.

The Argentine pope is no stranger to apologizing for his own mistakes, which he himself has called a “crime” of the institutional Catholic Church.

During his 2015 visit to Bolivia, he sought forgiveness for the sins, crimes, and offenses committed by the church against Aboriginal people during the American colonial-era conquest. In Dublin, Ireland, in 2018, he offered a huge apology to Irish children and women who have been sexually and physically abused for generations by church officials.

That same year, he personally met three Chilean survivors of sexual abuse whom he insulted by supporting a bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse. In multiple meetings over a week scheduled for Canadian delegates, Francis listened and apologized.

Phil Fontaine was national head of the Assembly of First Nations in 2009 when he led a tribal delegation to meet with Pope Benedict XVI. At the time, Benedict only expressed his “sorrow for the pain caused by the deplorable behavior of some members of the church.” But he did not apologize.

Standing outside St. Peter’s Square, Fontaine apologized to the entire pope, saying, “The thousands of survivors who are still seeking healing will be greatly encouraged by these efforts.” They are anxious to see true reconciliation, but without truth there will be no reconciliation. ”

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