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Catholic bishop hopes residential school apology will improve Indigenous relations

Indigenous leaders say remorseful sentiments need to be backed up by meaningful actions
A sign commemorating victims of residential schools is attached to a fence line in front of homes on the Siksika First Nation, east of Calgary near Gliechen, Alta., Tuesday, June 29, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

A leader in Canada’s national assembly of Catholic bishops says he hopes an apology for the harms endured at residential schools could mark a turning point in the church’s relations with Indigenous Peoples.

But some Indigenous leaders say it remains to be seen whether the remorseful sentiments will be backed up by meaningful steps toward reconciliation.

Bishop William McGrattan, vice-president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, says there are plans to expand on the commitments outlined in Friday’s “unequivocal apology” for the abuses committed by members of the church community who were involved in running residential schools.

The bishops have promised to provide records that could help “memorialize” the students believed to be buried in unmarked graves, raise money for initiatives endorsed by Indigenous leaders and work on getting the Pope to visit Canada.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald says she welcomes the apology, but was disappointed that the bishops didn’t pass a resolution to formally invite the Pope to Canada to apologize to residential school survivors, their families and communities.

McGrattan says plans for the Pope to meet with an Indigenous delegation travelling to the Vatican in December should be a “first step” toward securing the apology called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

READ MORE: Survivor offers advice on how to honour National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The Canadian Press

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