In Canada, the discovery of a large number of children’s graves near residential schools caused a scandal a few months ago. The Catholic Church has just expressed its remorse.
Canada’s Catholic bishops have issued a formal apology to Indigenous peoples after the discovery in recent months of more than a thousand graves near former residential schools, according to a statement released Friday.
“We, the Catholic Bishops of Canada, express our deep remorse and offer an unequivocal apology,” they declared. They also recognized “the suffering experienced in the residential schools” and the “serious abuses which were committed by certain members” of the Catholic community.
“Many religious communities and Catholic dioceses have served in this system which has led to the suppression of indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, without respecting the rich history, traditions and wisdom of indigenous peoples. », They affirmed. This declaration also acknowledges the “historical and continuing trauma, as well as the legacy of suffering and challenges that still endure for indigenous peoples.”
A dark page in Canadian history
In total, more than a thousand anonymous graves near former Catholic Indian residential schools were found this summer, shedding light on a dark page in Canadian history and its policy of forced assimilation of First Nations.
Many indigenous groups have repeatedly called for an apology from the Pope. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has made reconciliation with indigenous peoples one of his priorities, himself deplored the refusal of the Pope and the Catholic Church to recognize their “responsibility” and their “part of guilt ”in the management of residential schools.
150,000 children forcibly recruited
The statement was released after the annual plenary assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, which recalled that an indigenous delegation will be received by Pope Francis in December. The apology comes less than a week before the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day, in honor of missing children and residential school survivors, scheduled for September 30.
Nearly 150,000 Native American, Métis, and Inuit children were forcibly enrolled in 139 such residential schools across the country, where they were cut off from their families, language and culture.