‘Historical moment’: Manitoba Indigenous leaders on papal apology

Pope Francis’ trip to Canada to apologize for the Catholic church’s role in the residential school system is a “step toward healing,” say Manitoba Indigenous leaders.

Although the Pope isn’t stopping in Manitoba as part of what he has called a “penitential pilgrimage,” residential school survivors and leaders from across Canada have been watching the beginning of his tour in Alberta with great interest.

“It has been over a year since discovering over a thousand unmarked graves of children on Indian Residential School grounds, and we are still mourning them,” said Cornell McLean, acting Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs on Monday.

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Read more: Full text of the Pope Francis’ residential school apology: ‘I am deeply sorry’

“An apology does not ease the pain of lost children who never returned home, or the legacy First Nations carry as the survivors, their children, and their grandchildren. However, we encourage the church to move forward in the spirit of reconciliation by making concrete commitments and true reparations going forward.”

The Pope will meet with survivors across Canada at events in Alberta, Quebec and Nunavut over six days.

He previously apologized for the church’s role in the residential school system when a delegation of Canadian First Nations and Métis peoples travelled to the Vatican in the spring.

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Read more: Pope Francis ‘deeply sorry,’ asks for forgiveness for residential schools during Alberta visit

An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools — more than 60 per cent of which were run by the Catholic Church.

“Today’s apology from the Pope is a historical moment that recognizes the generations of harms caused by residential schools and the Catholic Church to Canada’s First Nations children and families,” said Cindy Woodhouse, Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief.

“Every survivor will choose how they feel about the apology. We have witnessed the Pope’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action #58 — and heard a message of hope to our people, Canadians, and Catholics worldwide: First Nations cultures, languages, and traditions matter.

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Read more: Residential school survivors await ‘impactful’ apology from Pope

“This message will help to guide us all on the path to reconciliation.”

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Residential school survivors await ‘impactful’ apology from Pope

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