Pope Francis spoke the words “I am deeply sorry” on Canadian soil as he addressed the survivors and families of the wrongdoings and losses of Indian residential schools run by the Catholic Church.
During his address, the pope referred to a pair of baby moccasins presented to him during an indigenous delegation to Rome, which took place in late March 2022.
Pope Francis said, “I would like to reflect on this symbol, which has kept alive my sadness, resentment and shame over the past few months.” “The memory of those kids is really painful. It urges us to work to ensure that every child is treated with love, respect and dignity.
“Those moccasins also tell us a path to follow, a journey we want to make together.”
It was a gesture that came from retired Okanese First Nation Chief Mary-Anne Day-Walker Pelletier to extend her commitment to moving to Canada, offering an apology, and visiting the residential school graveyard.
“I’m relieved that the moccasins are back,” Day-Walker Pelletier said. “The words he described really put into perspective that he really understood that the unmarked graves and the children who were lost and died were in fact … the (strong) presentation I did in Rome.”
In late March, day-walker Pelletier presented Pope Francis with baby moccasins, to represent children who were ripped from their families and placed in Indian residential schools, where many did not return home.
“It made me think that he is a very humble person, very kind and very sensitive,” she said. “I saw a lot of survivors and a lot of emotion came out, but I think a lot of people (in them) were feeling so emotional that they had to apologize.
May Desnomy is a residential school survivor from Pepekissis First Nation. She was one of the guest speakers who addressed the Pope before apologizing. The day was heavy for him and he hasn’t processed everything yet.
“I had a lump in my throat (to think) he’s really come to apologize to me,” Desnomy said. “I took it personally. Now that he was on Canadian soil, I thought he was talking to me and apologizing.
However, not everyone shared the thoughts and feelings of the other survivors. Barry Kennedy, a residential school survivor at Maryvale Residential School, did not attend the Pope’s visit, but expressed dismay when he learned that the Pope was presented with a headdress from the former Grand Chief of the Treaty Six First Nations and a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. it was done. , Wilton Littlechild.
“Headdress is very important in our traditions and culture. They are worn by leaders we respect and follow,” Kennedy said. “For me, it’s a shame to give her the headdress. After her (ends her journey), it’s going to be the same… nothing’s going to change.”
Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation chief Tony Alexis said today was a historic moment for indigenous peoples, but the papal apology reopened the old wounds of many residential school survivors.
“People were triggered in the audience… you can hear and see it. It opened a wound and we can’t leave it like that,” said Chief Alexis. “You can’t just say I’m sorry and Go away… and something has to be done.”
In his speech, the Pope said that begging is not the end of the matter, but the first step and the starting point.
Pope Francis said, “An important part of this process will be a serious inquiry into the facts of events that have happened in the past.” “I will continue to encourage the efforts of all Catholics to support Indigenous peoples … My presence here and the commitment of the Canadian bishop is testimony to our desire to continue on this path.”
If you or someone you know is a residential school survivor and looking for help, you can call the Residential School Survivor and Family Crisis Line at 1-800-721-0066.
Pope Francis said at Sacred Heart Parish: ‘I have come to your house’
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.