Pope visits Canada to apologize to Aboriginal communities

aOn July 24, Pope Francis will begin a week-long journey through Canada that he described as “Pilgrimage of AtonementTo meet Indigenous communities and formally apologize for rampant abuse and ‘cultural genocide’ in boarding schools – run by the Roman Catholic Church – where more than 150,000 Indigenous children have been forcibly enrolled.

In late March, delegates of Canada’s three largest Aboriginal groups – the Métis, Inuit, and First Nations – met Pope Francis at the Vatican, and the pope issued the pope’s first-ever formal apology to the aboriginal community in Canada. During the meeting, the Pope said he intends to travel to Canada to begin the process of reconciliation and healing.

Pope Francis said in a message public statement In Vatican City last week.

Here’s what you need to know about the visit:

Why is the Pope visiting Canada?

Pope Francis’ trip comes nearly a year after the remains of more than 1,000 people, most of them children, were discovered in the grounds of former boarding schools across Canada, particularly in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. The unmarked mass burial sites have sparked national outrage over Canada’s long history of abuse and death in boarding schools.

In schools, children faced emotional, physical, and sexual abuse by school authorities, and often from the clergy who worked there. Unsafe living conditions and abuse led to an undocumented number of deaths in schools that were often unreported. Indigenous communities have long called for a papal apology that takes responsibility for the church’s involvement.

The Indian Residential School Settlement Agreementthe largest mass settlement in Canadian history, went into effect in 2007. Besides financial compensation for former students, investigations into individual allegations of physical and sexual abuse, funding for health and healing programs, and memorialization of hardship caused by schools, he called for the settlement to establish Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a Canadian government commission set up to examine the effects and legacy of the Indian residential school system and to identify solutions that do not erase the history of indigenous suffering. The commission highlighted the church’s role in the residential school system and invited the then Pope to make a statement.

“We call on the Pope to issue an apology to survivors, their families and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic administration boarding schools. We pray that this apology be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and take place in Within one year of this report being issued and delivered by the Pope in Canada,” the Truth and Reconciliation Commission wrote in its report calls to action in 2015.

The Pope will visit Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit, Three sites of cultural interest With a large number of indigenous people, on his journey. in Unique diplomatic outfitsThe Pope will not meet with Canada’s head of state, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, until midway through the trip.

Read more: IIndigenous groups in Canada want more than an apology during the Pope’s visit

The first Pope to hail from the Western Hemisphere, Pope FrancisBorn in Argentina, he is credited with speaking out more about indigenous rights than other prominent figures in the Catholic Church.

“The fact that the Church deals with this is going to be really important. On Sundays, this should be discussed in every pulpit across the country for Catholics. Priests should explain what this means to the Catholic people so that they change their actions as individuals,” said Bill Erasmus, Canadian president of the Arctic Athabaskan Council. and former national president of Dene, for TIME magazine. “This is the only method that will have any effect and meaning.”

What do you know about the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church in indigenous schools

The boarding school system, established by the Canadian government, was a network of boarding schools across Canada, and attendance for years was compulsory for all Aboriginal children. schools have Comprehensive documentation It is a widespread issue of physical, sexual and psychological abuse that has traumatized generations of Indigenous children.

“I myself, did not go to boarding school. My father had to go. He tried it, he didn’t want it for us,” says Erasmus. “I haven’t tested it, but I am the next generation. It’s a generational thing, and it affects us all.”

The catholic church works about 70% Boarding schools in Canada from the 1880s to the 1990s. Besides primitive public education, the indoctrination of Christianity and European-Canadian customs took precedence in schools

“If you are study How indigenous lands were conquered or colonized, there is a pattern that includes the church,” says Erasmus. “This is because our people already know spirituality. They already had their own belief system and were not about to argue about God when other spiritual people came among them, so they largely accepted Christianity, but then calmed down for what happened to them.”

The residential school curriculum is designed to eliminate all aspects of bad culture, according to a University of British Columbia article. The siblings were separated from each other and the languages, customs, and traditions of the aborigines were banned. Children also suffered from overcrowding, poor sanitation, inadequate food and healthcare, and alarmingly high death rates, the article said. In 1907, he was a Canadian government inspector mentioned 24% of previously healthy Indigenous children were dying in boarding schools.

Schools also had courses to teach business skills and manual work, but this practice was generally seen as a way to implement social system and the inclusion of indigenous peoples in lower working class jobs.

What Aboriginal communities want to visit

Indigenous Canadians across the country are grappling with what a Pope’s visit could mean for them. Some feel hollow gesture In many ways, while others look to it as an opportunity to find peace.

Principal Doris Bell of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation stresses the importance of the treatment this journey provides to the many survivors. The Kwanlin Dün First Nation delegation will bring in counselors and medical professionals in case the event upsets or overwhelms any survivor.

“I myself am a survivor, there are about 49 people from our first nation who disembarked. It was fun because at 4:30 in the morning we had to be at the airport and everyone was excited and smiling — it was a real thing,” says Bell. “I think everyone has different expectations of what this journey means to them. I hope this helps them on their healing journey. For some, an apology means a lot and I really hope it helps them move forward and leave all those negative things behind.”

Erasmus shares that although an apology is necessary, people may or may not be willing to accept it. Erasmus says it remains to be seen whether the Catholic Church and other authorities complicit in the persecution of indigenous peoples will continue to listen to indigenous communities and help them recover.

When it comes to the Church, government cannot be excluded from this. One of the big issues here in Canada, as well as in the United States, [is that] The government pushed the Catholic Church to look after our children in schools,” says Erasmus. “It’s deeply rooted, it’s systemic. It’s in the laws, it’s in Canada’s world views.”

Indigenous leaders and advocacy groups continue to do so We point out the issues With the Doctrine of Discovery, legal precedent gave European governments and the Catholic Church justification for the colonization of indigenous lands. In 2016, the Catholic Church released a file public statement about The doctrine of discovery Recognizing its role in the persecution of indigenous peoples, however, the faith was not officially abandoned.

“Part of the message that First Nations in Canada passed on to the Pope when they met earlier this year was that they also had to reject the principle of discovery, which basically says that our people were discovered by others and because we weren’t Christians in others had a legal obligation,” Erasmus says. by occupying our lands.” Part of that is the persistence of the myth that we ceded our lands or were conquered. We were never subjugated. We entered into treaties of peace and friendship.”

The Pope’s visit to apologize for the long and devastating history of abuses against indigenous peoples in Canada is the first step in his goal of reparations.

“When the council spoke about this, for us it was a no-brainer. We have to support the survivors. This could be a real watershed moment for some people in helping them move forward on their path to recovery,” says Bell.

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