Calls to crisis lines double after Pope’s apology for ‘deplorable evil’

calls to crisis lines

The number of calls being made to crisis lines in Canada has doubled following the Pope’s apology for the ‘deplorable evil’ committed by members of the Catholic Church.

“After (the apology) people just came in droves to us,” said Nola Jeffrey, executive director of Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society, a substance abuse and trauma help centre in Lantzville, British Colombia.

“We didn’t leave until the last person that wanted help was finished,” Jeffrey said.

Indigenous Services Canada said the federal government’s 24-hour crisis support line has received double the number of callers it usually gets since the Pope arrived for his penitential visit this week.

“The crisis lines are receiving calls from across the country,” Kyle Fournier, a spokesperson for Indigenous Services Canada, said in an email on Thursday.

“Callers to the crisis lines are expressing a range of different emotions. For some, the Pope’s visit and apology may be healing; for others, it may be triggering. Discussions about the harmful legacy of residential schools are important and can also be difficult for many.”

On average, Fournier said The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has received 121 calls a day since January 2022.

But the day the Pope apologised for the cultural destruction and forced assimilation of Indigenous people, the number of callers jumped to 277. The next day, the crisis line received 244 calls.

Fournier said that 300 additional mental wellness and cultural support workers were asked to be at papal events in Alberta. Sixty workers have been asked to be in Quebec, and 40 mental health workers will be on-site in Iqaluit for the papal visit, eight of whom are clinical counsellors.

Jeffery said Canadians need to consider how those who can’t let go of their pain can get support for the days, weeks and years to come.

“There’s a teaching that it takes seven generations to let go of trauma, and so we’re just at the tip of this,” she said. “My hope is that we can help our people,” she added through tears.

“The Pope didn’t talk about how the children were raped, beaten, shamed, starved and how they were experimented on. We need to make our people feel good about themselves. So many of our people are dying.”

Jeffrey stated indigenous people thrived for thousands of years before colonisation.

“Colonisation is just a blip in our history,” she said. “It’s a painful blip, but I know that we can come out of that and be strong and thrive again.”


Toronto Star


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