Angry survivors want to determine Pope’s Canadian apology

Angry survivors

Survivors of Canada’s residential schools say they should decide when and where the pope comes to apologise.

The apology must be given to all survivors, and some would not feel comfortable attending a traditional Catholic event, the angry survivors say.

The comments from the current indigenous leaders represent a new generation that wants redress rather than reconciliation, says Fr Raymond de Souza in the National Post.

While former national chiefs Phil Fontaine and Willie Littlechild worked hard in the 1990s and 2000s to heal the relationship and establish new partnerships, the current national chief, RoseAnne Archibald, is twenty years younger and is less inclined, he says.

Archibald refused to join the delegation to meet Francis.

While the new leadership disagrees on some aspects surrounding a possible apology, they agree on four points.

  • Any further apology must acknowledge the complicity of the entire Catholic Church and the Vatican, not just some individuals.
  • Action must accompany any apology. This includes disclosing all documents on the schools and graves, as well as full payment of compensation which some estimate to be more than $60 million. It also includes repatriation of artefacts, repudiation of the colonial Doctrine of Discovery, and prosecution and extradition of abuser priests.
  • All expenses — roughly $50 to $100 million for previous papal visits — should be paid entirely by the Vatican.
  • The location, timing and all major decisions should be made by the survivors themselves.

The four points follow local reactions that poured in following Pope Francis’ apology.

After watching Francis’ apology, Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie said he was angry and disappointed.

“Come on let’s get real, it was a forced apology.

“It was a political apology.

“When someone is forced to apologise, I don’t think that is a sincere apology,” said Louie.

Thousands of Indigenous children were forced into Canadian Government residential schools run by the United, Presbyterian, Anglican and Catholic churches.

Around 60% of the schools were Catholic-run.

“That church is a multi-billion-dollar organisation. It’s rich, very rich and it caused the loss of our First Nations language, a lot of cultural damage, and it should be bucking up some of those billions to go towards the damages of the past,” added Louie.

“There should be a criminal investigation done, criminal,” he said.

“If just two non-native graves were found in this country, what would the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) do? They’d launch a criminal investigation.

“Here you have 215 unmarked graves in Kamloops – where’s the criminal investigation? There is still too much racism.”

He added that Francis’ apology came too late and now is the time for action.

“No more nice words; no more phoney, forced apologies. We need some anger and action.

“It is anger and action time in my opinion,” said Louie.

The archbishop of Edmonton, Richard Smith, says the apology from Pope Francis for the role the Roman Catholic Church played in the residential school system is just the first step on the road to healing.

Smith says the pope also made it clear to the bishops that an apology needs to be followed up with concrete action, especially at the local level.

“Indigenous peoples across the country are distinct and they’re autonomous. We’ve got to be really careful to avoid a perpetuation of colonial mentality, whereby we say to them: ‘Here are your problems — we know how to fix it and here’s what we will do for you,”’ Smith said.

“Those days are over.”

At a press conference the day before Francis’ apology at the Vatican, a series of Assembly of First Nations delegates spoke for an hour with nary a word about their actual conversation with the Holy Father; they merely read at length their prepared statements obviously aimed at a political base at home that had opposed the Vatican meeting altogether – so reports the National Post.



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