Pope meets Canada Indigenous groups seeking apology for children abuse
The Indigenous groups are looking for an apology for the church-run residential schools in Canada.
Indigenous delegations met and pressed Pope Francis for an apology for church-run residential schools in Canada.
This week, indigenous survivors are traveling to the Vatican to talk with Pope Francis about the crisis that has shaken the Catholic Church.
Since last May, more than 1,300 unmarked graves have been uncovered at church-run schools attended by Indigenous children in Canada as part of a government program of forced assimilation.
The Catholic Church in Canada apologized in September to the indigenous community for a century of abuse at Church-run residential schools set up by the government. In October, the Vatican announced that the Pope intended to visit Canada to "rebuild bridges" with the indigenous community, but no date has yet been set.
Pope Francis has expressed his "pain" at the scandal but has not gone so far as to offer the apology that indigenous leaders are still calling for.
In January, Canada announced its biggest settlement of $31.5 billion to reform its discriminatory child welfare system and compensate Indigenous families who had their families broken up.
$20 billion will be allocated for First Nations children removed from family care and enrolled in state residential schools to assimilate them.
Cassidy Caron, president of the Métis National Council, told journalists in front of St Peter’s Square that the Pope "listened … (he) heard just three of the many stories we have to share," adding that “While the time for acknowledgment, apology and atonement is long overdue, it is never too late to do the right thing.”
Francis also met privately with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami leaders. The 85-year-old Pope will meet with a delegation from the Assembly of First Nations on Thursday, followed by a final group gathering on Friday.
Caron expressed, “We really truly hoped that … (at) this meeting today, that the pope would listen … and hopefully bring an apology when he does arrive in Canada."
From 1831 till 1996, Canada's residential school system, built on racism and segregation of indigenous peoples, snatched 150,000 children from their families, forced them into Christianity, malnourished them, and physically and sexually abused them.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in 2015, labeled the almost-century long legacy a "cultural genocide". Children were beaten for speaking their native language, which violently compelled the Natives into cultural isolation, then genocide. The TRC provides directly or indirectly affected people a safe space to narrate their experiences.