Local Journalism Initiative
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Roman Catholic Church needs to “step up” and accept responsibility for Canada’s residential school system.
Trudeau says he personally asked Pope Francis in 2017 to consider apologizing for the system that took 150,000 children from their parents’ homes and sent them to live at church-run and government-sponsored schools, where abuse was rife.
“We’re still seeing resistance from the Church, possibly from the Church in Canada,” he said.
This comes after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced that they had located the remains of 215 children who died at a Kamloops residential school, which has led to calls to the government and church to investigate the sites of other schools.
The prime minister called on Canadian Catholics to speak with their cardinals and bishops and demand the church take responsibility for its role in the horrors of residential schools.
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop Richard Gagnon called the discovery of the remains “shocking” in a news release, which did not mention the church’s role.
“As we see ever more clearly the pain and suffering of the past, the Bishops of Canada pledge to continue walking side by side with Indigenous Peoples in the present, seeking greater healing and reconciliation for the future,” he wrote.
Jeremy Appel is an LJI Reporter for Alberta Native News.