Residential school survivors upset by no Catholic Church apology

LaRonge Now

March 28, 2018

By Derek Cornet

Residential schools survivors who attended a two-day gathering this week aren’t happy with Pope Francis’ decision to not apologize for the trauma they went through.

“I talked to a few people this morning and the Pope knows what happened from so many stories,” Lac La Ronge Indian Band elder Tom Roberts, who organized the event held March 27 and 28, said. “They’re not happy, I’m not happy, but what we learned at the residential school and being survivors now, is we are very resilient people. If we get knocked down, we get up.”

As one of the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Pope was asked to come to Canada and apologize to survivors, their families and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. Roberts said through the vast amounts of testimony already given about people’s experiences at those schools, Pope Francis should be well aware of what happened.

Roberts attended residential school in Prince Albert for seven years and said his journey in life has been hard because of it. He said people are now in a period of reclaiming their identities, which are slowly coming back. First Nations people were hopeful the Catholic Church would have apologized this summer, Roberts said, adding he feels sorry for the Pope not coming.

“It didn’t have to happen that way, where they took us away from our moms and dads as young as five years old to be taken to the residential school for 10 months out of the year,” he said.

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