Residential schools for natives in Canada: Pope Francis recognizes a “genocide”

Residential schools for natives in Canada: Pope Francis recognizes a “genocide”

Pope Francis has acknowledged that the drama of residential schools for natives in Canada is similar to a “genocide”, on his return from a six-day trip during which he asked “forgiveness” on numerous occasions to the Native American populations.

“I didn’t say the word (during the trip) because it didn’t come to mind, but I described the genocide. And I apologized, asked for forgiveness for this process that is genocide,” the pope said during a press conference on the plane taking him back to Rome.

The pope asks for “pardon”

“Abduct children, change culture, change mentality, change traditions, change a race, let’s put it like that, a whole culture,” added the Argentine sovereign pontiff in reference to boarding schools for indigenous children (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) established in Canada between the end of the 19th century and the 1990s.

Throughout his visit, the pope asked “forgiveness” on several occasions for the role played by “many Christians” in this system set up by the governments of the time but mainly managed by the Catholic Church. Some 150,000 children were forcibly recruited there. Many suffered physical or sexual abuse, and thousands never recovered, victims of disease, malnutrition or neglect.

“Doctrine of Colonization”

Asked about the “Doctrine of Discovery”, the 15th century papal edicts that authorized European powers to colonize non-Christian lands and peoples, the pope deemed this “doctrine of colonization” “wrong” and “unjust”.

“This mentality that we are superior and the natives don’t matter is serious. For that, we have to work in this direction. To go back and clean up all that has been badly done, but realizing that today also , there is the same colonialism,” he replied.

In Quebec and then in Iqaluit, in the Arctic archipelago, natives had displayed signs and banners during the gatherings in the presence of the pope to ask to “revoke” this doctrine.

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