The First Nations of Quebec await an apology from the Pope
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) wonders if the pope’s apologies will be made in ancestral lands, as hoped. This concern follows statements in The duty of the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Monsignor Raymond Poisson, on the Pope’s visit to Canada.
In the article, Bishop Poisson explains that an apology has already been made during the trip of the Canadian congregation to the Vatican.
“These words were spoken a few days before a meeting that survivors have been waiting for for the past thirty years,” the AFNQL said in a statement.
For the AFNQL, “real apologies” are expected when the Pope comes. They will allow people who need it “to begin their healing with all the respect they deserve”. Thousands of people are expected to go to Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré to receive an apology from the pope.
This grossly underestimates the process in which survivors are engaged.
Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL
In an interview with Subwaythe chief of the AFNQL, Ghislain Picard, believes that the words of Bishop Poisson show “insensitivity” towards the survivors.
“Survivors travel to Quebec to hear the apologies,” he said.
According to him, the delegation that visited the Vatican had reiterated the need for an apology to be pronounced also on the ancestral lands, the place of the residential school system.
“If ever the vast majority go back to their respective communities […] without having heard an apology pronounced by the pope, of course, there is a risk of being very, very disappointed”, says chef Picard.
During the first leg of his visit to Alberta on Monday, Pope Francis apologized to the Indigenous communities present at the event for the atrocities committed by the residential school system.
Apologies, what next?
For Chief Picard, after the apologies must take place the repairs. According to him, it would be desirable for a discussion to take place with the representatives of the church when they come to Quebec. Discussions around possible financial compensation could take place.
“I can’t wait to see what the church has to offer,” he said. [La] reparation is also something that is on the minds of survivors and their representatives.”
Expectations are “extremely high” from residential school survivors, he said. The latter will be the only ones able to take stock of the pope’s visit and agree to forgive.
“The Catholic Church was not quick to commit to the idea of financial compensation,” he said. Moreover, the Catholic Church is to date the last to have presented its apologies.
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