Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau has asked the Pope to apologize to the victims who were ill-treated and abused in schools run by the Catholic Church. Last month, a mass grave containing the remains of 215 indigenous children was found in a residential school run by the Catholic Church in British Columbia. Earlier, there have been discoveries of bodies of thousands of other children in other locations across Canada.
From 1863 to 1998 Catholic schools and the Canadian government had joined hands to forcibly take indigenous children away from their parents and put them in religious schools run by Catholics in a bid to assimilate them to mainstream Canadian society. More than 150,000 indigenous children were separated from their parents.
In 2008, the Canadian federal government formally apologized about this practice and set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the decades of neglect and abuse. They called it “cultural genocide.”
The investigations read like a horror story as they reported
- at least 4100 deaths from abuse or neglect
- rampant diseases including tuberculosis, malnourishment, and accidents as the reasons for the deaths
- horror stories of sexual abuse
- horror stories of physical abuse
- accounts of neglect
- survivors had chronic illnesses
- some survivors had disabilities
The Missing Children project found that 4100 children had died from neglect or abuse before the recent finding of 215 children at Kamloops in British Columbia. In this recent find last month, the bodies of these victims have not yet been identified. Earlier the government and the religious bodies termed many of these children as “runaways.”
The remains of the children were found using infrared equipment. Survivors believe that more bodies will be uncovered at the same site. The reasons for their deaths has not yet been determined. It is also believed that many more bodies could be buried across 80 other similar residential schools across Canada.
On Friday, Chief Rosanne Casimir told media that it was a harsh reality and a harsh truth and a part of their history and that they have always had to fight to prove it.
Chief Roseanne Casimir also said that her nation was expecting a public apology from the Catholic Church. There has been no response from the Vatican after Catholic Prime Minister Trudeau asked for a personal apology from the Pope. However, on Wednesday, the Archbishop of Vancouver had apologized. Earlier, the United, Presbyterian, and Anglican churches had also apologized for playing a role in the abuse of indigenous children. The Canadian government has also apologized to the victims.