Sahtu

Fort Norman Métis say Pope’s next apology must go further


The Fort Norman Métis Community says it “will not accept the last apology” delivered by Pope Francis regarding residential schools and a “more fulsome one’ must emerge during his July visit.

The Pope is due to arrive in Edmonton on July 24, Quebec City on July 27, and Iqaluit on July 29. He is expected to hold several meetings with representatives of Indigenous peoples in that window.

Some leaders have called on the Pope to expand upon the initial apology he delivered during audiences with Indigenous delegations at the Vatican in early April.

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At the time, Pope Francis said he felt “sorrow and shame” for Catholics’ role in “the abuses you suffered and lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture, even your spiritual values.” But he stopped short of delivering a broader apology on behalf of the Catholic Church as a whole.

In a press release on Tuesday, the Tulita-based Fort Norman Métis Community stated: “The crimes that were committed against our members while they were in the care of the Roman Catholic Church were devastating and have had lasting detrimental effects.

“The Church itself must be 100-percent accountable for its acts.”

The Fort Norman Métis said the Catholic Church had “deflected the blame” for crimes committed against Indigenous peoples through Canada’s residential school system, in which the Church played a central role.

“A full acknowledgement must include admissions of the knowledge that the Church had known about all of the abuses when they happened and the conspiracies to hide the truth,” Tuesday’s press release continued.

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“The Church failed to care and provide for the survivors that were the actual victims.

“The acknowledgement must include an admission that they covered up what was going on in these institutions. Should the Pope provide the acknowledgement and admissions, then he must take action.”

Indigenous leaders have made clear that the Pope’s initial apology while at the Vatican is seen as just a first step, and a new apology delivered on Canadian soil must follow.

“It’s a start,” said Dene National Chief Gerald Antoine, who led one of three Indigenous delegations that met with the Pope in April, at the time.

“It’s more important,” he added, “that the walk of the talk occurs.”

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