Canada: Indigenous leaders to meet with pope in Rome in late March | Indigenous rights news

The visit comes after unmarked graves were found in “boarding schools”, many of which are run by the Catholic Church.

Warning: The story below contains details about residential schools, which can be frustrating. The Canadian line of survivors and family crisis schools for Indians is available 24 hours a day on 1-866-925-4419.

Indigenous leaders will travel from Canada to the Vatican in late March to meet with the pope to discuss the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the Canadian housing school system following numerous discoveries of unmarked graves in the former.

In a joint statement Tuesday, Canadian Catholic bishops, the Assembly of First Nations, the Metis National Council and the Inuit Tapirit Kanatami said the delegation would visit in late March and early April.

The trip was postponed since December due to concerns about the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

“We remain committed to healing and reconciliation and look forward to the opportunity for indigenous elders, knowledge keepers, survivors of residential schools and young people to meet with Pope Francis,” the groups said.

Hundreds of unmarked graves have been found in former housing schools across Canada since May, when 215 were found in the former Indian housing school of Kamloops in the western province of British Columbia (British Columbia).

Map of former residential schools in Canada

In a recent discovery, Williams Lake First Nation in British Columbia announced last week that preliminary results from the first phase of a geophysical search at St. Joseph Mission’s Residential School revealed 93 “reflections” – believed to be unmarked tombs.

Canada forced more than 150,000 children from the first nations, Inuit and mestizos to attend residential schools between the late 1800s and 1990s. Indigenous children were deprived of their languages ​​and cultures and subjected to psychological, physical and sexual abuse.

Thousands are believed to have died while attending institutions run by various churches, most notably the Roman Catholic Church. The Federal Commission of Inquiry into Institutions, known as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), concluded in 2015 that the system was a “cultural genocide.”

In its final report (PDF), the TRC called on the pope to apologize to surviving schools, their families and communities “for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual violence against first-nation children, Inuit and mestizos in Catholic-run residential schools.” ”.

“We call for this apology to be similar to the 2010 apology given to Irish victims of violence and to take place within a year of the issuance of this report and to be submitted by the Pope to Canada,” the commission said.

In June, Pope Francis expressed “pain” over the discovery of unmarked graves at an Indian residency school in Kamloops, but did not stop offering the apology long sought by survivors at residency schools.

The Catholic Church and the Canadian government are also called upon to disclose all records relating to the facilities, as survivors and indigenous leaders continue to demand justice and accountability for the crimes committed there.

On January 20, the Canadian government said it had reached an agreement with the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), a research center run by the University of Manitoba in central Canada, “outlining how and when Canada will share historical documents.” institutions.

Stephanie Scott, executive director of NCTR, said at the time that the deal was “another step on the path set for us by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

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