How Were The Boarding Schools For Indigenous People For Whom Francis Apologizes In Canada?

How Were The Boarding Schools For Indigenous People For Whom Francis Apologizes In Canada?

How Were The Boarding Schools For Indigenous People For Whom Francis Apologizes In Canada?

Pope Francis began a six-day visit to Canada on Sunday in which he will focus on asking forgiveness on behalf of the Church for the abuses committed by members of religious communities in boarding schools through which some 150,000 indigenous children passed from 1883 to 1996. whom the state sought to westernize.

“It is a penitential journey”, he described it on Sunday while flying from Rome, in line with the “shame” for what happened that he expressed four months ago to the indigenous delegations of the Métis, First Nations and Inuit peoples who visited him in the Vatican .


The boarding school system spread throughout Canada once the country achieved independence from Great Britain in 1867 and the first local governments drew up a plan to seek a forced assimilation of the indigenous people into the brand new Canadian society, with a strong European influence through different waves of immigration.


With the antecedent of a first Law on the Indians of 1876, the State ordered from 1883 the internment, without parental consent, of young native minors in the so-called residential schools, which sought to erase the customs and cultures of indigenous people to adapt them to the new country in formation. With few resources, schools quickly became hotbeds of poor hygiene and health conditions, aggravated by cold weather and insufficient food. Some diseases, such as tuberculosis, especially attacked children in boarding schools, according to official figures.

In addition to the complaints of physical, psychological and even sexual abuse that were registered, the indigenous peoples maintain that between 4,000 and 6,100 children died in boarding schools


Of the 139 centers that operated in the country counted by the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation created by the Government, which investigated the history of internees from 2008 to 2015, some 50 were managed by institutions linked to the Catholic Church.

Thus, one of the 94 points that the commission proposed in 2015 as a “call to action” included an apology from the Pope for the actions of members of religious communities in those centers. But not like the one that the then pontiff Benedict XVI had expressed from Rome in 2009: the apology should be made in Canada and with a level similar to other recognitions made by the Church in cases of sexual abuse, particularly in Ireland.


“The biggest mistake this country has made is the forced assimilation of indigenous minors through boarding schools,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in 2021, as part of a state line to encourage reconciliation, which also includes disbursements of 11,000 million Canadian dollars (about 8.5 billion US dollars) over the next six years for reparation programs and outreach to indigenous communities, according to data from the latest budget.


“Our Government believes that an official apology from the Pope, on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church and on Canadian soil, is an important step towards acknowledging the past and towards healing and reconciliation with the survivors of the residential schools, their families and communities in Canada,” Renelle Arsenault, spokesperson for the Crown Ministry of Indigenous Relations, told Télam.


This Monday, Francisco dedicates the first activity of the tour to a visit to one of the most emblematic boarding schools, Ermineskin, which operated between 1895 and 1975 and which will be the starting point for the series of meetings he will have with the indigenous representatives to renew them your request for forgiveness.

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