Indigenous people, groups and leaders have shared mixed reactions to Pope Francis’ apology for the abuse and assimilation Native children endured at Catholic-run residential schools in Canada. Many are calling for action and accountability.
The pope is on a six-day trip in Canada, where he has asked for forgiveness for the “devastating experiences that took place” in residential schools.
From the 1800s to the 1970s, Native children were taken from their homes and forced to attend government-funded Christian schools in Canada, where they were physically, emotionally and sexually abused. Some children died at these schools and were buried in unmarked graves. Similar schools operated in the U.S., where the explicit mission was cultural genocide.
Children were beaten and punished at these schools for speaking their Native languages and practicing their culture and religion. As a result, tribes have suffered language and culture loss, and historical trauma from these schools persists today.
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Francis spoke at the site of the former Ermineskin Indian Residential School in Maskwacis, a community in central Alberta, on Monday. The pope acknowledged that remembering the residential schools “hurts, angers, causes pain, and