Several thousand indigenous children died and even more were abused in boarding schools run by the Catholic Church in Canada between 1881 and 1996. Now the Pope is apologizing.
– I humbly ask for forgiveness for the crimes so many Christians have committed against indigenous peoples, Pope Francis told a group of indigenous Canadians on Monday, according to New York Time.
He traveled to Canada on Sunday to seek pardon for abuses committed by the Catholic Church against indigenous Canadians.
– It is important to remember how the assimilation policy, which also includes the pesantren system, is very detrimental to indigenous peoples.
Catholic Church in operation 66 boarding schools on behalf of the Canadian government from the late 1800s to the 1990s, with the aim of assimilating Indigenous children into Christian culture. This means eliminating children’s knowledge of Canadian native culture and language. An Indian law of 1876 permitted the establishment of these schools in Canada, and the last schools closed in 1996.
The pope is said to have said he was “deeply sorry” and thanked the natives for making him aware of the offenses that had been committed.
Several thousand died
The trip to Canada was planned after representatives from indigenous peoples went to the Vatican to ask youapology from the Catholic Church this spring.
In 2021, the remains of 215 children were found outside the former Kamloops Indian Housing School in Canada. It is one of the largest boarding schools, with over 500 students.
A commission set up by the Canadian government, which was supposed to investigate the assimilation made by Canadian authorities against indigenous people, concluded in 2015 that several thousand children had died in schools. Deaths are said to have been caused by disease, malnutrition, accidents, fires and abuse. The commission’s chairman, Murray Sinclair, estimates that nearly 10,000 children never return home, according to New York time.
About 150,000 indigenous children were forced to attend boarding schools until the 1970s, writes Reuters.
Travel is what is called a pilgrimage for forgiveness, where the Pope goes around apologizing. He will visit some indigenous peoples in Canada, in areas around Alberta, Quebec and Nunavut. On Monday, he began his journey at Ermineskin Indian Residental School in Alberta, where he gave a speech asking for forgiveness.
Pope Francis will be in Canada until Friday. according to Reuters.
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