Sask. Indigenous leaders call for apology from Catholic Church, Pope Francis for role in residential schools

Saskatchewan Indigenous leaders have called for the Catholic Church and Pope Francis to take responsibility for the wrongs committed to generations who attended residential schools.

On Sunday, Federations of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said he encourages all residential school survivors and their families to write and request the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, the Government of Canada, the RCMP and all other institutions involved with residential schools to preserve and release all records of residential schools.

“So that truth and healing can happen for all, and the United Nations can conduct an investigation into the genocide and ongoing systemic racism against all First Nations people in Canada,” Cameron said in a news 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.”

Earlier this week the Archdiocese of Regina issued an apology for its role in residential schools and committed to fulfilling its “moral obligation” by supporting Indigenous communities as they work to search the sites of former schools.

“We are profoundly sorry for the hurt that actions and decisions of our church in the past have caused to Indigenous Peoples and in ways that we presently re-traumatize by our actions and inactions,” Donald Bolen, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Regina said in the statement. “We have heard and acknowledged that apologies are not an endpoint but a starting point, and are learning how to walk in solidarity.”

On May 28, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. Since, then, there have been calls by First Nations leaders, human rights advocates, and opposition politicians for accountability and support from all levels of government as well as cooperation by the Catholic Church to find answers.

The RCMP have opened an investigation into the site of the former residential school.

On Sunday Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said he’s confident the Catholic Church will follow court processes should sensitive records about the residential school system in Canada be subpoenaed.