May 10 2009
Reconciliation and friendship is what we seek to re-build a better future together. April ended with the opportunities for May flowers to bloom as National Chief Phil Fontaine met with Pope Benedict XVI seeking an apology from the Catholic church for its role in the Indian Residential School saga. The purpose: to discuss the legacy of the Indian residential schools era and the need for reconciliation.
More than 150,000 Aboriginal children were forced into Indian Residential Schools, which were run by the churches on behalf of the federal government. Approximately 75% of them were run by the Catholic churches. In 1993, the Anglican church apologized for its role in the Indian Residential Schools, following suit the United church apologized in 1998 and both these churches contribute to the settlements from the Alternative Dispute Resolution claims for physical and sexual abuse. Now 2009, the Catholic church is the only church that has not issued a formal apology for its role in the Indian Residential Schools and is the only church not to contribute to the settlements from the Alernative Dispute Resolution claims.
To celebrate a positive, collective healing and reconciliation movement within our families, communities, churches and government on May 26th of each year celebrate National Day of Healing and Reconciliation (www.ndhr.ca).
“The task of healing and reconciliation for survivors, Catholics and all Canadians, will be greatly assisted if the Pope formally acknowledges the Indian residential school system and the harms it inflicted on our people.” – Fontaine said in Ottawa on Wednesday (April 2009)