Indigenous Services minister wants Pope to apologize for Canada’s residential schools

OTTAWA- Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says the Pope needs to issue an apology for the role the Catholic Church played in Canada’s residential school system.

A papal apology was one of the 94 recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally asked the Pope to consider such a gesture during a visit to the Vatican in 2017.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced in 2018 that the Pope could not personally apologize for residential schools, even though he has not shied away from recognizing injustices faced by Indigenous people around the world.

Miller says it’s “shameful” that an apology hasn’t been issued to date and there is a responsibility that lies squarely on the shoulders of Catholic bishops in Canada.

His comments come after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc announced last week that ground-penetrating radar had located what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children at a former school in Kamloops, B.C.

Miller and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett also say that $27 million, originally earmarked in the 2019 budget, will now be urgently made available to uncover unmarked graves at former residential schools across the country.

The government-sponsored, church-run institutions operated in Canada for more than 120 years and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ruled it constituted a cultural genocide.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2021.

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