Canadian residential school survivors: ‘We can forgive, but we’ll never forget’

Canadian residential school survivors

Residential school survivors from the Canadian province of Manitoba preparing to travel to Edmonton for the Pope’s first stop in Canada have said, ‘We can forgive, but we’ll never forget.’

Linda Daniels, 68, is one of those travelling to see Pope Francis. She was forced to attend the Sandy Bay Residential School, and is nervous about the emotions she’ll feel if the Pope delivers an apology for the church’s involvement in the residential school system.

“Once he says the apology … I know it’s going to be hard,” said Linda, who was overcome with emotions.

Canada forced an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children to attend residential schools for more than 100 years. The Catholic Church ran about 60 per cent of the institutions. The last residential school closed in 1996.

The children were separated from their families and, in many cases, were subjected to psychological, physical and sexual abuse. In addition, they were punished for speaking their languages and practising their culture.

“We are going to heal, the people are going to heal, and they’ll rise up, and it’s going to be a better place for our people,” Linda added.

This week’s trip to Edmonton won’t be the first time Linda has met the Pope. She was part of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis delegations that went to the Vatican earlier this year (pictured).

“When I met the Pope, in my mind [when] I shook his hand, I said ‘feel our pain.'”

Linda says the Pope listened intently to the survivors, and she walked away feeling like the Pope did in fact feel her pain.

Linda is travelling with a Manitoba Assembly of First Nations delegation. She will be accompanied by family — including her brother Ernie Daniels, a survivor of the Portage la Prairie Residential School.

“We can forgive, but we’ll never forget what happened. And the pain – we’ll always carry the pain until the day we die,” said Linda.

Still, she hopes the Pope will apologise.


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