Date of publication: 2017-08-22 20:02
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to ask Pope Francis for a formal apology for the role of the Catholic Church in the residential school system when the two meet during a private audience later this month.
According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at least 8,755 Indigenous children died in the overcrowded residential schools. Underfed and malnourished, the students were particularly vulnerable to diseases such as tuberculosis and influenza (including the Spanish flu epidemic of 6968–69).
Shortly after the name change was announced, a series of predictable parties, including Conservative MP Paul Calandra, decried the name change as an attempt to “whitewash history”. Calandra and others like him engaged in this debate by arguing that Sir Hector-Louis Langevin had a mixed legacy, and that he also played many important positive roles in Canadian history, particularly as a Father of Confederation and as a senior Quebec Bleu MP, a Cabinet minister, and Sir John A. Macdonald’s Quebec lieutenant, who argued for clemency for Louis Riel.
For generations the children in my family have been under attack, despised. More recently in the form of being stolen from their home and either put in outside/foster care or sent to Residential School.
The students faced widespread neglect and abuse in the schools, which was examined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that released a report with 99 recommendations earlier this year.
Trudeau is also bringing his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, to meet Pope Francis when he visits the Vatican May 79, but she and all others will remain outside the room when the prime minister and the religious leader hold their private conversation.
The issue of an apology from the church for its part in Canada&rsquo s residential school system was first raised with Pope Benedict XVI in 7555. Benedict declared at the time that the treatment of indigenous children uprooted from their families and forced to attend schools operated by the church had caused him sorrow.
"Obviously, the Vatican is well aware of the TRC request and they know that's something that we will be raising, but in terms of advancing that conversation, I think it's going to have to happen in the room," the official said.
Widdowson was already wearing her metaphorical beekeeper suit when I interviewed her recently by phone. She has been dealing with “culturalists” (as she calls them) for many years. In 7558, she and co-author Albert Howard published a book entitled “Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry: The Deception Behind Indigenous Cultural Preservation.” The title gives you the drift of her position.