Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut May 03, 2018 - 8:00 am

MPs want Pope to apologize for church’s role in residential schools

"Those who attempted to destroy us need to recognize and take responsibility for what they’ve done"

Inuit children from the western Arctic gather outside a residential school in this undated file photo. MPs passed a motion May 1 asking the Pope to issue an apology on behalf of the Canadian Catholic church for its role in operating dozens of residential schools over the last century. (FLEMMING/NWT ARCHIVES: N-1979-050-0101)
Inuit children from the western Arctic gather outside a residential school in this undated file photo. MPs passed a motion May 1 asking the Pope to issue an apology on behalf of the Canadian Catholic church for its role in operating dozens of residential schools over the last century. (FLEMMING/NWT ARCHIVES: N-1979-050-0101)

Canada’s members of Parliament are calling on Pope Francis to issue an apology for the Catholic church’s role in residential schools.

The apology was one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action in 2015.

Call to Action No. 58 asks for a papal apology for the role the church played in establishing and operating the majority of Canada’s residential schools.

The motion, introduced by NDP MP Charlie Angus, also calls on the Catholic church to live up to its “moral obligation” to raise funds towards healing programs for survivors.

And finally, the motion asks the church to turn over any relevant documents as requested by residential school survivors.

“This is a hopeful day—a historic day—but the work is far from over,” said Angus, who is the NDP’s Indigenous youth critic, in a news release.

The motion was the second one tabled since the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to Indigenous leaders in March explaining that Pope Francis wouldn’t personally apologize to survivors.

Instead, the organization said the Pope encouraged Canadian bishops themselves to work towards reconciliation with Indigenous communities.

Bishops later held a news conference on Parliament Hill to try to clarify the Pope’s comments, but did not suggest an apology was forthcoming.

An earlier motion by Angus on April 18 failed to receive unanimous consent to proceed, but a later motion, on Tuesday, May 1, passed 269-10. The group who voted against it was made up of Conservative MPs.

“Let us remember today, and every day, that in order for us to move forward, those who attempted to destroy us need to recognize and take responsibility for what they’ve done, and never let history repeat itself,” said Romeo Saganash, the NDP’s reconciliation critic, in a news release.

Saganash, a Cree from the Eeyou Itschee region of Quebec, attended residential school as a youth and has been vocal about the TRC’s calls to action.

More than 70 per cent of Canada’s 132 residential schools were operated by the Catholic church and the federal government.

The United Church of Canada, the Anglican church and the Presbyterian church each apologized in the 1990s for their own roles in the residential school system.

In 2009, the former pope, Benedict XVI, expressed “sorrow” for the church’s role in residential schools to a delegation of Canada’s Assembly of First Nations, but stopped short of an apology.

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(12) Comments:

#1. Posted by Yez on May 03, 2018

Good, and don’t let him, or any other pope back into Canada until this happens.

#2. Posted by uvaga on May 03, 2018

annoying, sorry to you for what ever happened then what? holds on to grudge from many years, I will play the VIOLIN for you guys. I was not there and this is so depressing to having to look back from years ago, I want to see what’s ahead not behind.

#3. Posted by rez_eski on May 03, 2018

I wonder if they heard the PC party in saying its all ok we did nothing wrong we gave them new life

#4. Posted by feed up with old news on May 03, 2018

Apr 29, 2009 - Pope Benedict XVI expressed “sorrow” to a delegation from Canada’s Assembly of First Nations on Wednesday over the abuse and “deplorable” treatment .

#2 agree with you,
how many survivors abused others,,,they should apologize for the abuse they created, a spiral of sexual abuse

like priest like choir boys

#5. Posted by Kids today are being abused on May 03, 2018

They WEREN’T trying to destroy you, though, Romeo.  Times were different back then, and they were doing the best they could with what they knew to provide an education so that aboriginals could have opportunities in the modern and rapidly changing world. 

There were some predators who took advantage and some students were abused, but guess what?  Inuit society also has predators and abuse, it always did and it still does, and it probably has way more than mainstream society does, according to the number of people who claim to have been abused.

How many apologies do you need?  How about doing something about the kids being abused TODAY, by inuit, in inuit communities?  There is a lot of that, and you even know who they are and who is abusing them.  It’s so much easier to focus on something that happened decades ago though, isn’t it, and try to bully people you still view as powerful into giving you apology after apology, when almost all the abuse happens right at home.

#6. Posted by haha on May 03, 2018

To the people who belittle the people of races you continue the abuse by saying it happened in the past and not to live it anymore you still feel and live the words you heard around your own peer group it still continues you think all Inuit are acting this way how about you are you not acting like the racist people you grew up with

#7. Posted by Reader on May 03, 2018

It is not a sincere apology. An apology may start the healing process, but you can’t place all your healing an apology.
How many children in our communities don’t get apologies from their predators.
Get help, heal and stop basing your healing on some guy who was not even Pope 10yrs ago
So how many apologies are required? Before we can move on.

#8. Posted by Sean Tingley on May 04, 2018

UNDRIP and the Canadian Parliament both recommend the Pope apologize for the church’s actions and subsequent ramifications they had on the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

Where do some of you get off with the personal attacks? This isn’t personal, this is collective.

And it should have happened years ago.

#9. Posted by Fake Plastic Tree on May 07, 2018

If for any reason you think the Church should not have to apologize for the sickness and deprivation that was inflicted on Inuit under its power and protection, then you clearly have no moral sensibility whatsoever.

#10. Posted by more apologies... on May 07, 2018

Have they also asked for an apology from the Queen or the Archbishop of Canterbury for the schools ran by the Anglican schools?

Neither church was involved in the schools in Nunavut and Nunavik. They were all run directly by the feds.In NWT the Anglican church operated several schools.

The situation was no different and they all had their bad apples and all three operated the same way. If there was a problem, they’d move the problem around.

What is apology going to change? There are still many abusers around. Let’s move on and work on the present and future.

#11. Posted by Learn some more on May 07, 2018

#10 the Anglican run school ran much better than the Catholic run schools, with the Catholic run residence it was much much worse with the sexual assaults and molestation.
There were also more schools and residence run by the Catholic church.

Most people that do not understand why we want an apology and try to put this down do not know and have never experience something like this before. Even when you do not understand you try to bring this down, why is that? Does it make you uncomfortable?

#12. Posted by eskimo joe on May 08, 2018

most of what happened is hard to forget, mind, body, soul hurts, as a result of this experience, it had hurt many families. it’s real as post dramatic experiences experienced by in-coming canadian soldiers from the middle eastern nations who had to see what isis did to their own ppl.  anglican church did no better than rc ran schools. these pious man of cloth were (many of them) degraded sex maniacs? pedophiles? i say to you mr. pope, if your priests cannot contained their sexual urges, tell them to get married, you’re running a crumpling (almost hellish) org. shape up or get out…it doesn’t not look like a church anymore but a money making device.

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