First Nations leaders in Saskatchewan are calling on Pope Francis to visit the province and apologize to the survivors of the residential schools.
It comes as the Vatican announced that the Pope would visit Canada for indigenous reconciliation on October 27.
Pope Francis to visit Canada for indigenous reconciliation, says Vatican
Chief Cadmus Delorme told reporters that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology for Canada’s role in residential schools had an impact on his late father, who was a survivor of the residential school.
“The Pope must now apologize and he must do so on Canadian soil,” said the Cowessess First Nation chief.
He noted that he had just learned of the Pope’s plans to visit Canada and no formal invitation has been sent to the Vatican for Pope Francis to visit the Cowessess First Nation.
Chief Delorme noted that he will speak with survivors of residential schools and members of the First Nation before a decision is made.
“Unfortunately, there are survivors who may never forgive or never forget. But at least we (have) hope that our next generations can be exactly what we all wanted at the beginning of our treaty relationship before residential schools came along. “
Indigenous leaders apologize as Pope plans visit to Canada
The Marieval Residential School, located in Cowessess First Nation, was operated by the Roman Catholic Church.
In June, a ground-based radar search found 751 unidentified graves on school property.
Cowessess First Nation holds vigil for victims of residential schools
The Saskatoon Tribal Council believes that the Pope should stop in Saskatchewan during his visit.
“This is where all the negative things happened to indigenous children and he should come to the treaty lands and talk to the treaty people about how it affected their lives in a negative way. Now we are trying to rebuild that, ”tribal chief Mark Arcand told Global News.
A Canadian delegation made up of indigenous leaders, elders and survivors of residential schools will meet with the Pope at the end of the year.
Cowessess First Nation says it has identified 300 of 751 unnamed graves
“It is going to be very meaningful that I choose the right place to go. It is a good step in the right direction. I hope people want me to come because they deserve that apology from the highest level of the churches and that is Pope Francis, “added Arcand.
The Tribal Chief noted that the Pope should also provide funds for survivors so that they can access support to help them recover from time spent in residential schools.
Meanwhile, Chief Delorme hopes that an apology can help restore the relationship between indigenous peoples and the Catholic Church.
“An apology is the beginning of a new relationship. What is the end of that new relationship? We do not know. But an apology is validation that the Roman Catholic Church and the millions of people who follow the church … this is a relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Roman Catholic Church. So an apology will reestablish a new relationship and that’s where it should start, ”he said.
No date has been set for Pope Francis’ trip to Canada.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.