Warning: Some of the details in this story may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.
Saskatchewan-based Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling on the Catholic Church and Pope Francis to apologize for its role in the treatment of Indigenous people in residential schools.
In a statement released on Sunday afternoon, the FSIN called on the Church and its leadership to “do what is right and apologize for the wrongs and genocide committed against the First Nations people and generations of First Nations children.”
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The call comes after the Pope expressed his sorrow but did not apologize for the role the Church played in Canada’s residential school system. The remains of 215 Indigenous children were found recently at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., which the Church ran from 1890 to 1969.
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“This was genocide, and it should be acknowledged as such by the perpetrators, the Church, the Government, and the RCMP,” FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said in the release.
“Survivors and their families deserve an apology for the wrongs committed against them during decades of abuse at federally and church-run residential schools.”
The FSIN is also calling on all associated institutions to preserve and release all residential school records “so that true reconciliation and healing can begin and the United Nations can conduct an investigation.”
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The release encouraged all survivors, their families and elders to request records from the Church, the Government of Canada and RCMP.
Many Indigenous leaders and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have called on the Church to issue an apology in recent days.
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended as one of its Calls to Action that the Church apologize for the role it played in the residential school system. It has yet to do so.
Anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience can access this 24-hour, toll-free and confidential National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419
-With files from Katie Dangerfield and the Associated Press.
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