Story at a glance
- The remains of 215 Indigenous children were discovered at the site of a former residential school in Canada last week.
- The Kamloops Indian Residential School was one of the largest in Canada and operated by the Catholic Church between 1890 and 1969.
- On Wednesday, Canada’s Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said he believes the Pope needs to issue an apology.
Canadian officials are urging the Pope to issue a formal apology days after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found at the site of a former residential school in Canada.
According to The Associated Press (AP), First Nations children from the 19th century through the 1970s were forced to attend Christian schools to convert to Christianity and assimilate them into Canadian society.
The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc community announced the discovery of the remains near the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Canada last week.
Thousands of children across the country, most of whom were Indigenous, were separated from their families and forced to attend the residential schools that were operated by the Catholic Church.
The Kamloops Indian Residential School was one of the largest in Canada and operated by the Catholic Church between 1890 and 1969 before it was closed in the late 1970s. A 2015 report from the Canadian government detailed physical, sexual and emotional abuse some of the children suffered, and in 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally asked the Pope to consider an official apology.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2018 said the Pope could not personally apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential schools.
On Wednesday, Canada’s Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said he believes the Pope needs to issue an apology.
“I think it is shameful that they haven’t done it, that it hasn’t been done to date,” Miller said.
“It should be done. There is a responsibility that lies squarely on the shoulders of the Council of Bishops in Canada,” he added.
On Wednesday, the archbishop of Vancouver issued an apology.
“I am writing to express my deep apology and profound condolences to the families and communities that have been devastated by this horrific news,” Archbishop Michael Miller said.
“The Church was unquestionably wrong in implementing a government colonialist policy which resulted in devastation for children, families and communities,” he said.
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