First Nations children are worth more than words, says local indigenous storyteller

Anishinaabe grandmother Kim Wheatley said of the apology issued by Pope Francis for abuses by members of the Catholic Church in residential schools, saying, “Legally criminal behavior is not mitigated with an apology.”

Traditional Anishinaabe grandmother Kim Wheatley says families affected by Canada’s residential school victims need more than the words of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis has issued an apology for abuses by members of the Catholic Church in facilities and said he expects the journey of reconciliation to continue when he visits Canada this summer.

“that series [of traditional practices] The knowledge that was passed on to the ways of life and union with the land was broken by a colony that lacked respect for you, tearing many of you away from your important surroundings and making you conform to another mindset. The Pope said. Progress follows through ideological colonization following programs designed in offices rather than a desire to honor life.

“Hearing your voice, I was able to enter into the stories of suffering, hardship, discrimination and abuse of various kinds, and was deeply saddened, which some of you have experienced, especially in residential schools. Inferiority in people It’s cool to think about creating a sense of self, stripping them of their cultural identity, breaking down their roots, and considering all those relevant individual and societal endeavors—the unresolved traumas that have become intergenerational traumas.

“All of this has made me feel two things very strongly – anger and shame; anger because it is not right to accept evil and, even worse, to become addicted to evil, as if it were an essential part of the historical process. No. ! Without genuine resentment, without historical memory and without a commitment to learn from past mistakes, problems remain unsolved and keep coming back. We can see this in the case of war these days. The memory of the past is the altar of perceived progress. But never sacrifice.

“I’m ashamed too. I said this to you and I’m repeating it now, with sadness and shame, for the role that many Catholics, especially those with educational responsibilities, have in all these things that you The abuses you have faced and the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values ​​are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. These members of the Catholic Church For the reprehensible conduct, I ask God for forgiveness and I want to say with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I ask your forgiveness along with my brothers, the Bishops of Canada.”

The pontiff’s amnesty was recognized by leaders across the country, including Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdswell, who said he followed delegations from First Nations, Inuit and Métis and “proceeded with the courage and perseverance of the delegation.” “

“The Pope’s apology, ‘I beg God’s forgiveness, and I want to say to you with all my heart, I am very sorry,’ is an important and powerful step on the road to reconciliation that we all must walk,” she said.

Responding to the statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the day it was made was “about the survivors, their families and those who never came home.”

Trudeau said in a statement: “This week, First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders, survivors and youth traveled to the Vatican to continue urging the Catholic Church to apologize, a great display of bravery and determination.” ” “This apology would not have happened without the survivors, who told their truth directly to one of the institutions responsible, and recalled and relived their painful memories. Over the decades, spiritual, from First Nations, Inuit and Métis Popes, Calling to recognize the cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse their children endured while attending these residential schools, they await an apology for decades.

“Today’s apology is a step forward in acknowledging the truth of our past. We cannot separate the legacy of the residential school system from the institutions that built, maintained and operated it, including the Canadian government and the Catholic Church. Today’s apology will revive strong feelings of hurt and trauma for many. The government will continue to support Indigenous communities across the country with funds and resources, which they need to continue searching for unmarked burial sites, in residential schools. There is a need to continue uncovering the truth of what happened and continue his healing journey.”

But for traditional Anishinaabe grandmother Kim Wheatley, words are only the tip of the iceberg on what is needed to proceed on this journey.

“Legal criminal behavior does not subside with an apology,” she said. “Our people deserve far more, like releasing the names of children buried, all the records related to them, the complex support needed to support healing in our communities, and the list goes on!

“It is disgraceful that only now an apology is being issued but there is no meat and potatoes to go with it, and we all know that the Catholic Church is the richest organization in the world. They have to do much better and with an apology. You need to advance your point.

If you need to speak to someone, please contact the National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line, which is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.

Brock Weir is a federally funded Local Journalism Initiative reporter


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