PRINCE ALBERT, Sask.- The senior bishop from the Church of England is to meet with residential school survivors in Saskatchewan this weekend.
Rev. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, is to visit James Smith Cree Nation on Saturday and hear stories shared by residential school survivors, followed by a community tour and dinner.
Following a Sunday service, Welby is also to attend an Indigenous gathering in Prince Albert where he is to meet with Indigenous leaders and more residential school survivors.
Welby says a significant purpose of the trip is to repent and atone for the harm the Church of England has caused to Indigenous peoples.
He says the visit will be an opportunity to listen, lament and pray for justice, healing, and to transform the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the church.
The Anglican Church says it ran about three dozen residential schools in Canada between 1820 and 1969.
“The history of the Church of England in Canada is one that has, to my profound regret, caused lasting suffering and hurt to the Indigenous communities,” Welby said in a statement.
“The Church of England had pledged to walk with Indigenous people and advocate for them ‘as long as the grass grows.’ Instead, we failed to honor our commitment to be an advocate, ally and relative of First Nations people.”
In 1993, the Anglican Church of Canada apologized for operating residential schools.
An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools in Canada.
The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their relatives suffering with trauma invoked by the recall of past abuse.
The number is 1-866-925-4419.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 29, 2022.