We are sorry… and we apologize… (Part 9)

Starting in the early 1990’s, Catholic dioceses and religious orders that were directly involved in staffing the federal government’s residential schools have issued apologies for their involvement in them.  In the words of the apology made by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who oversaw a large portion of the federal residential schools operated by Catholic entities, “The biggest abuse was not what happened in the schools, but that the schools themselves happened”, citing the premise that underlay their very existence was wrong and injurious to the rights and dignity of Canada’s Indigenous People.  This, together with the many abuses the children endured -- sexual abuse being the worst among them, has been a source of scandal and betrayal to both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Peoples alike.

In 2018, in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Report’s call for a formal apology by the Pope on Canadian soil, work began to organize a delegation of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Leaders to meet with Pope Francis in Rome.  Work was well on the way for a Fall meeting in 2020 when the Pandemic halted all plans.  The meeting has now been re-scheduled for December 17-20, 2021.  A formal request will be delivered for Pope Francis to offer a formal apology on Canadian soil.

In the meantime, the Catholic Bishops of Canada, each in their own diocese, are tasked in putting their words into action and continue the work of reconciliation among Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Peoples alike.  Front and centre will be the sharing of any outstanding relevant files having to do with residential schools, the outstanding discussion on restitution and compensation, and the building of a more respectful relationship built on trust.

(For a more detailed understanding of what happened, please read the Truth and Reconciliation Report: nctr.ca/records/reports, and scroll down to “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future.”)