PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — During a weekend in Saskatchewan he spent listening to stories from survivors of Canada’s residential schools, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned at a church service that rules and structures must not become more important than people.
“That’s the tragedy of residential schools, the mystery of no one objecting, the mystery of no one saying, ‘This is outrageous,’ the addiction to process over people,” the Rev. Justin Welby told congregants at the St. Albans Cathedral in Prince. Albert.
Welby, who is the senior bishop and spiritual leader of the Church of England, has said that an important purpose of his visit to Canada from April 29 to May 3 is to repent and make amends for the harm the Church of England has done to Indigenous villages. .
He said during Sunday’s service that he has been “overwhelmed by faithfulness to God” that he has heard in survivors’ testimonies, noting that there are two parts to forgiveness.
“We cannot put a burden, or obligation, on those who have suffered and say it is their job to forgive. But I will tell you from my own experience that being forgiven is often more difficult than forgiving,” Welby said.
“Our pride gets in the way and we blame the survivor and the victim, and not the perpetrator. We allow ourselves to make excuses for ourselves.”
The Anglican Church says it ran some three dozen boarding schools in Canada between 1820 and 1969. In 1993, the Anglican Church of Canada apologized for operating boarding schools.
Welby is also scheduled to visit Brantford, Ontario. and Toronto.
On Saturday, Welby attended a ceremony held at a gym on the James Smith Cree Nation in northern Saskatchewan, where he was presented with an eagle feather by David Pratt, deputy head of the province’s Federation of Indian Sovereign Nations.
Welby, in return, presented Pratt with a replica of the “Reconciliation” statue found in St. Michael’s Cathedral in Coventry. The original statue was conceived after World War II, during which the 14th-century cathedral, whose remains lie next to St. Michael’s, was destroyed by German bombing.
“We give very few of these, but we would like to present one to the community here, not as a symbol that (reconciliation) has been achieved, but as the beginning of a journey that we hope will lead to peace, hope and reconciliation. for you,” Welby said Saturday.
“And this comes with our prayers, our pain and our gratitude for this welcome.”
The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their families who are experiencing trauma invoked by memories of past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.
— By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 1, 2022.