April 28, 2009

First Nations seek Pope's apology

First Nations delegation to meet privately with PopeOn the eve of its private audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Wednesday, a small delegation from Canada's Assembly of First Nations hailed the event as "historic and momentous."

During the meeting behind closed doors, the Pope is expected to read a statement about the Roman Catholic Church's role in the residential school system in Canada.

The church administered three-quarters of residential schools across Canada, but has yet to apologize for the abuse suffered by many of the 90,000 former students still alive.

Assembly of First Nations Leader Phil Fontaine is part of the delegation, which also includes elders and survivors.

"We're going to be in conversation with the Holy Father, and we're going to talk about the residential school experience," he told CBC News.

Isabella Tatar, head of the Legacy of Hope Foundation, which seeks to create awareness about the effects of residential schools, said the meeting represents an important step forward.

"The fact that survivors, their experiences are being validated, I think that will serve a very effective tool or forum for closure, not necessarily for everyone, but I think for a significant number of people," she said.
Comment:  I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that whatever the Pope says, it won't alleviate the pain felt by the residential school survivors.

Note that the survivors already have a financial settlement, which Fontaine called a "symbolic apology," and an actual apology from Canada's prime minister. They've also asked the Queen of England to apologize.

One has to wonder why these apologies haven't provided "closure" yet and which apology will be the final apology needed. If the Pope apologizes and that doesn't do the trick, then what?


Unknown said...

I would suspect that each individual involved needs his/her own specific closure to forgive and move on and perhaps that is why there needs to be more than one addressing of the situation. Considering the number of people involved and not being familiar with further details I wonder if those who were involved on a personal level have themselves apologized for their actions to the individuals they directly affected or if they have been held accountable for the choices they made and the treatment they issued. None of the victims have any direct relationship with the pope, but they do know his representatives.

Ananda girl said...

I do not believe that this is the sort of thing that can ever be alleviated by words. I think an apology can only be a symbolic acknowledgement of the facts, not an eraser. That type of damage cannot be erased.